White River (Indiana)

White River (Indiana)

The White River is a two-forked river that flows through central and southern Indiana and is the main tributary to the Wabash River.

Two forks

The west fork, at 439 kilometers (273 miles), is the longest fork of the river. It starts in rural Winchester in Randolph County, winds through Muncie, Anderson and Indianapolis before joining the east fork in the triad of Daviess, Knox and Pike Counties.

The east fork starts in Columbus at the confluence of the Driftwood and Flatrock rivers. The east fork travels 261 kilometers (162 miles) before merging with the west fork.

The combined White River then flows another 72 kilometers (45 miles) between Gibson and Knox Counties before draining into the Wabash river at the Indiana-Illinois border next to Mount Carmel, Illinois. The total White River basin watershed is 14882 square kilometers (5,746 square miles).


Even with the constant threats to the river from pollution (see below) as well as from overflow sewage from Indianapolis, there is plenty of fun to be had on the White River. From fishing to kayaking to canoeing, there are many recreational activities to experience. In fact, there is even a White River Yacht Club and a section of the river in northern Indianapolis that is home to cottages and pontoon boats alike.


In 1997, the White River was listed as one of the United States' most threatened rivers.

Pesticides (herbicides and insecticides) are used extensively in the White River basin. Application of herbicides to corn and soybeans accounts for most of the use. The pesticides most frequently detected near the mouth of the White River during 1991 - 1995 were the herbicides alachlor, atrazine, cyanazine and metolachlor.

The highest concentrations of herbicides in the river were typically found during late spring runoff following application. Generally, concentrations of alachlor have been decreasing while concentrations of acetochlor have been increasing in response to changes in the use of these herbicides in the basin.

The total amount of the commonly used herbicides transported by the river is about 1% or less of the amount applied to cropland. Insecticides commonly used in urban and agricultural areas also were found but in much lower concentrations than commonly used herbicides.

In 1999, the West Fork experienced a massive Fish kill that spread for 50 miles for an estimated loss of 4.6 million fish (187 tons). [cite web |url=http://www2.indystar.com/library/factfiles/environment/white_river/fish_kill.html |title=The White River fish kill |accessdate=2008-09-09 |publisher=The Indianapolis Star |date=July 2002] The kill was traced back to Guide Corp, an automotive parts maker in Anderson, Indiana. Guide Corp would eventually reach a settlement whereby the company would pay a total of $14.2 million in fines, penalties, legal expenses, and river restoration. By March 2000, fish were naturally returning to the affected area, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources conducted a restocking program in October. The city of Anderson announced in 2002 that it would invest millions of dollars for improvements to its sewage treatment system.


*The headwaters of the west fork are farther east than the east fork.
*The Miami tribe gave this river the name Wapehani, meaning white sands.

ee also

*List of Indiana rivers

External links

* [http://www.munciesanitary.org/about/white_river.php/ Short Documentary on cleanup efforts in Muncie, Indiana]
* [http://www.friendsofwhiteriver.org/ Friends of the White River]
* [http://in.water.usgs.gov/nawqa/wr03007.htm USGS Occurrence of pesticides in the White River, Indiana, 1991-95]
* [http://in.water.usgs.gov/nawqa/wr02008.htm Principal Cities and Towns of the White River Basin]
* [http://www.indianawaterways.com/ White River Guidebook] , Indiana Waterways

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