The Herald Bulletin

January 9, 2014

Editorial: Phase II should help make informed decision about Mounds Lake Reservoir Project

The Herald Bulletin

---- — The state of Indiana has committed a $600,000 grant for the second phase of study for the Mounds Lake Reservoir proposal.

With millions of dollars of government money being thrown around at various projects across the country, it's easy to forget that $600,000 is a lot of money, coming from the pockets of a lot of taxpayers. So, when a project gets a grant of this size, it indicates a serious commitment to the potential of the idea.

The Mounds Lake Reservoir proposal has been lambasted by some as fanciful, backward thinking. Others discredit it as impractical or harmful to the community and the environment.

But to many, it is an intriguing proposal that could dramatically change the course of the community by drawing visitors, pumping up real-estate values and encouraging the development of new businesses in Anderson. The reservoir would offer a much-needed water supply for the growing Indianapolis metropolitan area.

Phase II of the study, financed by the $600,000 grant from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Program, will study the potential ramifications of the project, including a financial analysis, an ecological review and reports on engineering and community impact.

To review, the reservoir would cover 2,100 acres stretching across seven miles from west of Scatterfield Road in Anderson eastward into Delaware County. The project would include a 50-foot-high dam on the White River, flooding portions of Anderson, Chesterfield and Daleville. During Phase I of the project, five government units, including the city of Anderson agreed that a study should be done.

When the state releases the money within the next few weeks for Phase II, the study will commence.

This is the most important phase of the project to date and will be a major factor in determining whether the reservoir should be pursued further. Once we get to Phase III, we're talking about a much larger investment — at least $10 million, perhaps twice as much — for a preliminary design and state and federal permits.

Phase II is slated for completion in the summer of 2014. If the studies in this phase are thorough, it will arm local officials and residents with the information needed to decide whether to push ahead with the project, which could cost about $450 million in a mix of government money and private investments if brought to completion.

Some local folks have already rushed to judgment, pro or con, on the Mounds Lake Reservoir project. But all should remain open-minded until Phase II is completed. Then a rational, well-informed decision can be made about a project that would radically alter the community.

In summary Study will gauge potential community and environmental impacts of the Mounds Lake Reservoir proposal.