Fort Wayne delays planned lowering of river levels after ‘baffling’ waterfront business

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – City Utilities will push off the scheduled lowering the water levels in downtown Fort Wayne after one recreation businesses said it would have impacted their business.

“The lowering will allow for installing the Third Street consolidation sewer pipe under the river that will connect to the deep rock tunnel drop shaft. In a typical year, more than 270 million gallons of combined sewage overflows into the river,” said City Utilities in a press release.

This project is one of many from the Federal mandate in efforts to significantly reduce combined sewer overflows. The lower water levels will also help in the construction of drop shafts near East Central Park, Guldlin Park, Thieme Drive and Camp Allen Drive. City Utilities says the lower level should remain through next spring.

City Utilities informed area businesses including Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot on Cass Street, along the St. Marys River, about the project in early June. The city said the lowered water levels would still allow for kayaks and canoes.

Still, Fort Wayne Outfitters, which rents kayaks and paddleboards for use on the rivers, wrote in a post on Facebook that it was “baffled” at the city’s decision to “drop the water below recreational levels.” The post said the move will disrupt the “recreation season” on the rivers in Fort Wayne, which had been previously agreed to be from April 15 to October 15.

Fort Wayne Outfitters said in the post it was told the project could be done without dropping the water.

“The city says it wants businesses to invest in our Riverfront. As one of the first businesses to do so, we are baffled that our city’s leadership is okay with this decision that affects riverfront businesses so greatly,” Fort Wayne Outfitters said in the Facebook post.

City Utilities told WANE 15: “We gave FW Outfitters that notice in early June. When it is lowered it should still allow for kayaking and canoe use. Kayakers were in the water through various construction projects that required a lowering.  Promanade Park, The MLK Bridge, NIPSCO work by the Gas House, the Combs Street Bridge.”

City Utilities will now push back the lowering of river levels to Tuesday, Sept. 8.

In a new post Friday, Fort Wayne Outfitters thanked customers and friends for support.

“City Utilities just notified us that they are delaying the lowering of the rivers until September 8! Thank you all for speaking up for your rivers! You guys are just awesome.”

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