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Low-Head Dam Safety

Low Head Dam Safety Banner

Map with markers where low-head dams exist
Map of Low-Head Dams in Indiana

In March 2020, the Indiana legislature passed House Bill 1099, which prohibits people from accessing low-head dams and the waters within 50 feet of the dams when warning signs are present, among other provisions. For National Dam Safety Awareness Day on May 31, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) urges Hoosiers to learn more about low-head dams, where they are and to avoid them.

Low-head dam with bridge, flood gate, fishermen on bank nearby

What is a low-head dam?

A low-head dam is a manmade structure spanning a river or stream channel in which water flows over the entire length of the top of the dam. Moderate-to-high currents flowing over these dams create strong turbulent and recirculating forces that can pull and trap individuals underwater. These dams typically range from a 1- to 15-foot drop. Because of their relatively small size and drop, low-head dams may not always appear to be dangerous.

Low-Head Dam Safety

Resources

Download low-head dam safety tips

Man casting fishing net from atop low-head dam
"Over, Under, Gone" Documentary

Videos

"Be a Dam Champion" (Association of State Dam Safety Officials)
"DNR: Stay Away From Low-Head Dams at Any Cost" (WTIU story)
"Don't Give a Dam Your Life" (WFYI video)
“Over, Under, Gone: The Killer in Our Rivers” (WFYI documentary)

Other

Dam-Safety Webinar: June 9 (Association of State Dam Safety Officials)
House Bill 1099: Low-Head Dams (Indiana General Assembly)
Infographic: How to Escape Low-Head Dam (IDHS)
National Dam Safety Awareness Day (Association of State Dam Safety Officials)
Public Safety Around Dams (Association of State Dam Safety Officials)

References:
Low-Head Dams (Indiana Department of Natural Resources)

Man casting fishing net from atop low-head dam
"Over, Under, Gone" Documentary