ANDERSON – Two federal agencies have raised concerns about the proposed Mounds Lake Reservoir project including the skipping of an important step to consider alternatives.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have indicated a number of issues that need to be addressed before the proposed $400 million reservoir ending from Anderson into Delaware County can move forward.
The Corporation for Economic Development is the lead local agency on the reservoir project and is awaiting the results of a Phase II Feasibility Study.
“The comments from the federal agencies are in-line with what we expected,” Rob Sparks, director of the local CED, said. “We have received no pushback from the federal agencies. We need to take everything into consideration as we move forward."
EPA said the two feasibility studies being undertaken for the proposed seven-mile reservoir didn’t address alternatives to the construction.
“Proposing the construction of a dam and reservoir at this point appears to skip the important step of developing a range of alternatives (including a No Build Alternative) to meet a specific project purpose and need,” Kenneth Westlake of EPA wrote in April.
He said the need for future water demands warrants further study.
“Additional alternatives should include continued use of existing regional reservoirs, including Geist, Morse and Eagle Creek; use of groundwater supplies as a drinking water source; and construction of one or more off-line reservoirs (not in stream),” Westlake said.
Westlake also voiced concerns with the proposed purpose of the reservoir that was noted in the Phase I Feasibility study that included economic development in the region.
“At this time, selecting the construction of a new dam and reservoir to meet a proposed purpose of economic development in the greater Anderson area appears to be premature,” Westlake said.