The effort to initiate the Mounds Lake Reservoir project will inevitably require large reserves of patience and diligence.
While the idea has lots of proponents, it also faces stiff resistance from some who are concerned about the White River and the environment. Others question the economic viability of the $400 million project, which would build a 50-foot high dam and create a reservoir stretching seven miles and covering 2,100 acres while submerging portions of Anderson, Chesterfield and Daleville.
Just as importantly, the project must meet the satisfaction of local, state and federal government agencies. And, as everyone knows, such regulations can weave a tangled web of red tape.
Recently, The Herald Bulletin reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had raised concerns about the Mounds Lake Reservoir proposal.
The EPA, in a letter, suggested that the Mounds Lake effort had skipped the important step of examining other alternatives to the construction of a dam to meet the expanding water needs of central Indiana. The agency, furthermore, suggested that existing Indianapolis area reservoirs — such as Geist, Morse and Eagle Creek — or construction of another reservoir outside of the White River should be considered.
In another letter, the Fish and Wildlife Service echoed the voices of local White River boosters and environmentalists, expressing concern for some aquatic, bat and bird species and noting that the proposed reservoir could destroy portions of “four public parks, including Mounds State Park.”
The caveats of the EPA and the Fish and Wildlife Service must be addressed. But they do not sound a death knell for the Mounds Lake project.
Far from it, such federal reviews and stipulations should be expected as the project moves forward. For the reservoir to become reality, it must first past the muster of full scrutiny from all local, state and national agencies. There’s too much at stake for it to be any other way.