Opinion Columns & Blogs

Do more to reduce danger of low-head dams

At a minimum, Wichita needs to install better signs warning kayakers and canoers about low-head dams along the Arkansas River. But the city also needs to reduce the danger posed by these dams, which experts describe as a “drowning machine.” In July, Brian Bergkamp, a 24-year-old seminarian from Garden Plain, died after trying to assist another kayaker at the 21st Street Dam. Nationwide, such dams have killed more than 340 people since 1980, The Eagle’s Kelsey Ryan reported. Low-cost options for preventing people from boating over the dams include a log boom or cable to block access. The city also could add rocks or concrete steps below the dams to break up the water churn, or it could install a boat passage, as it did at the Lincoln Street Dam. But do something. – Phillip Brownlee