By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Leesa Bevelhimer lives right on the White River here in Anderson and opposes the Mounds Lake Reservoir.
Her reasons are personal and immediate.
An avid kayaker and runner, the river is her playground; the trails at Mounds State Park and Rangeline Nature Preserve her daily connection with nature.
“If they make a reservoir I might as well move because there will be nothing for me to do,” she said.
Bevelhimer was one of several hundred Madison County residents who attended the third and final public meeting on the proposed reservoir Tuesday night organized by Connect Madison County.
“They are going to flood the most beautiful stretch of the river,” she added, as well as wetlands, wildlife habitat and old growth forest, where some trees — at 300 to 400 years old — predate America itself.
Bevelhimer isn’t alone in her concern.
The Heart of the River Coalition, a group made up of local and statewide organizations, also has critical concerns about the proposal. The coalition hasn’t taken an official stand on Mounds Lake, but several members were distributing a statement to meeting attendees inside Reardon Auditorium before they were asked to take their message outside.
The coalition said it would critically review and monitor each aspect of the project and “advocate for a healthy White River system as well as for the preservation of thousands of acres of precious land that will be flooded forever and irreversibly change the landscape of this important corridor.”
From its dam head just west of Scatterfield Road in Anderson, the reservoir would back water up seven miles to Delaware County Road 300 South and encompass 2,100 acres.
According to preliminary estimates, the project would cost between $300 million and $400 million to build. Its primary purpose would be to supplement the Indianapolis metropolitan area’s water needs.
The next phase of study will cost an estimated $300,000.
An expanded panel that included Rob Sparks, executive director of the Anderson/Madison County Corporation for Economic Development; Chad Pigg, president and CEO of SESCO Group; Jonathan LaTurner of DLZ, an engineering firm; Anderson real estate agent Jim Bittner; Kim Rogers-Hatfield of White River Watchers; and Tom Bannon, executive director of the Anderson-Madison County Visitors and Convention Bureau, fielded questions about the project from audience members.
Many of the questions focused on environmental issues that would have to be addressed if the reservoir is built.
Several concerned the growing problem of algae blooms caused by nutrient-rich runoff into Geist, Morse and Eagle Creek reservoirs over the past several years.
Sparks and LaTurner said they would hope to create buffer areas immediately adjacent to the lake to address that problem. In addition, the reservoir headlands would be a wetland design to filter these nutrients.
The panel also discussed other aspects of the project including how land around the lake might be developed, pool depth, cost, ownership and how businesses and homeowners displaced by the project would be compensated.
This month, Sparks will seek non-binding resolutions of support for a second phase of study from elected officials in Madison and Delaware counties.
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