Sinkhole Dumping

Many of the hazards facing karst today come from outside of the cave system. Sinkhole dumping is an especially pernicious problem. Sinkholes provide a "convenient" place to deposit trash, rather than paying to have it hauled away. Many people obtain their drinking water from residential wells, and may unknowingly contaminate the very resource their livelihood depends on -- not to mention the damage to the cave life below. Large feedlots and septic systems in karstlands are also problematical as coliform bacteria find their way into the water supply.

The photo at right is but one example. This sinkhole is 60' deep, but is half-filled with trash and has several complete cars tossed in for good measure. The water percolating through this garbage enters an extensive cave system, part of which is commercialized, eventually discharging into a swimming lake at a state recreation area. Compare this photo with the one at left; in which a well casing penetrates a cave. Cave water is being drawn from this well for residential use with very little filtration.

In 1996, the IKC worked in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, county Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and other interested organizations to create an anti-dumping flyer. These educational flyers continue to be distributed to thousands of karst landowners in Indiana and surrounding states to discourage inappropriate use of sinkholes.