Good and Bad Developments Re: Mounds Reservoir

This just in from Tom Hohman…

There have recently been both good and bad developments in the Mounds Reservoir battle.  For background, while the dam would be in Anderson (Madison County), the reservoir would stretch into a significant section of Delaware County (where Muncie is located).

The Delaware County Council voted unanimously to oppose the formation of the multi-county commission that would be charged with overseeing continued study and eventual construction of the reservoir.

The Delaware County Commissioners followed their lead and also voted to oppose formation of the commission.

Proponents changed the makeup of the proposed commission so that it would no longer include representatives of county government of either Madison or Delaware Counties.  The commission now would be made up of representatives of Anderson and the towns of Chesterfield, Daleville, and Yorktown.  Daleville and Yorktown are both in Delaware County.

The Anderson City Council voted to join the proposed commission.

The Heart of the River coalition picked up another ally when an IU law professor, whose class had been studying the proposed reservoir for legal implications, agreed to address the Anderson City Council about the legal issues that the proposal would encounter.  Unfortunately, as evidenced by Anderson’s vote to proceed, this did not change any minds.

Several county economic development agencies in central Indiana (not named Delaware or Madison) announced their support for the reservoir.

Last week Gov. Pence (article below) announced that he sees merit in the proposal for the reservoir, and was open to the state providing funding for the phase III study, estimated to cost $28 million.

The Indiana Water Resources Association, composed of engineers and geologists in Indiana, will devote an afternoon of their annual conference to the reservoir next Tuesday.  The proposed reservoir is viewed negatively by many in that organization, due to geologic and engineering issues.  Unfortunately, I think it would be unusual for them to take a public position on an issue such as this.

The battle now shifts to the towns of Chesterfield, Daleville, and Yorktown, which have yet to vote on the commission.  If all of those vote in favor of the commission, it will be formed and the battle will shift to the next phase.  If either Daleville or Yorktown (both in Delaware County) vote against, it is uncertain what will happen.  If both vote against, the commission is dead.

Herald Bulletin Article 

ANDERSON, Ind. — Gov. Mike Pence said he sees merit in the proposal for construction of a reservoir on the White River in central Indiana that could cost $450 million.

The prospects are uncertain for the proposed Mounds Lake between Anderson and Muncie, but Pence said the project could offer both an important water resource and an economic development opportunity.

“The vision for that reservoir serves both the long-term water interests of the state of Indiana, something we’re talking more and more about . (and) the opportunity to develop this region in a fresh way that will attract new investment and attract people to the community,” Pence told The Herald Bulletin.

The reservoir would be created by damming the White River for a lake stretching for seven miles in Madison and Delaware counties.

The proposal has gained support from several economic development agencies in the region and the initial backing of the Anderson City Council, but officials in neighboring Delaware County have voted against supporting it.

The project’s opponents, including Heart of the River and the Hoosier Environmental Council, say the reservoir isn’t needed for water supplies and warn that the project would waste millions of dollars, flood a stretch of the river, destroy wildlife habitat and threaten historic sites, including some in Mounds State Park.

The state provided $600,000 to help pay for the first two feasibility studies for the reservoir project and could provide additional funding for a more extensive study estimated to cost $28 million.

“We’ll look at what is appropriate and talk with members of the General Assembly who represent this area.” Pence said. “We provided some resources for the first two phases and will take a fair look at it.”

A long-term water strategy is necessary, he said, as the state population grows. “We want to make sure we have the kind of water resources in our state that will meet the broad range needs of the people in our state.”

The planned 50-foot-high earthen dam in Anderson would create a 2,100-acre lake slightly larger than Geist Reservoir on the northeast side of Indianapolis.

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