Corydon Dam Removal

Outcomes and Conclusions

With the dams removed, the river biodiversity and ecosystem can improve. Sediment and water flow trapped by the dams can begin to establish new habitat for aquatic plants and wildlife while also improving the overall water quality. It will likely take a year or two before it can be determined if hellbenders can be reintroduced. In the meantime, Ecosystems Connections Institute will conduct post-removal tests in Big Indian Creek to quantify the physical, chemical, and biological responses. This information will be used to determine the overall health of the creek and for future hellbender reintroduction plans. 

Now that the dams owned by Corydon have been removed, the recreational danger is reduced. The removals eliminate potential liability for Corydon while also allowing them to promote water recreation.


Dams are regulated by multiple agencies and have multiple moving parts that do not always communicate with each other. This complexity can make it difficult for local governments to remove dams on their own. Partnering with an outside organization or person who has experience going through the permitting process can help. State and federal agencies are working to streamline the process and people in charge of creating removal permits are becoming more familiar with what needs to be included, which should expedite the process going forward.

Another challenge was convincing some members of the Town Council the dam removal project was in the Town’s best interest. When combining the liability aspect and the fact the Town would not spend any money on the removal, the Council approved the project.

Takeaway Message

Jerry Sweeten of Ecosystems Connections Institute said, "Removal of low head dams reduces liability to the owner of the dam, improves safety for people who use the stream for recreation, and creates better habitat for aquatic species.” All parties agreed that partnering is a beneficial step as it helps better navigate the process.

Project Resources

For more information on the dam removal process, contact:

Rand Heazlitt
Town Manager and Planning and Zoning Administrator
Town of Corydon, Indiana
812-738-3958 ext. 120

Cassie Hauswald
Freshwater Ecologist
The Nature Conservancy

Jerry Sweeten
Ecosystems Connections Institute