The Herald Bulletin

October 2, 2013

Geist reservoir faces weed, silt woes

The Herald Bulletin

---- — INDIANAPOLIS — A reservoir that’s one of the main water sources for Indianapolis is facing growing troubles with invasive weeds and silt buildup.

Geist Reservoir on the city’s northeast side was created 70 years ago and has had problems in the past several years with algae growth linked to lawn fertilizer from the numerous housing developments that line its banks.

Citizens Energy, which owns Geist and uses it to supply about 16 percent of the water needs in the Indianapolis area, has spent $2.4 million to refurbish its dam in recent years. The company is now planning a feasibility study of dredging the reservoir to make it deeper and hold more water.

“A man-made lake this old is going to have issues,” Citizens Energy spokesman Dan Considine said. “You are going to have lakes that become shallower because of silt runoff and that will have challenges with the water. As they get older, you have to spend money every year to maintain them.”

The 1,900-acre reservoir was created in 1943, six years after major floods hit Indianapolis.

Algae troubles since in 2007 have prompted warnings against swimming and given rise to fears about the future quality of the water. Some $100,000 also has been spent so far to chemically treat the water to attack the new infestation of a rapidly growing water plant — Eurasian watermilfoil — that’s caused problems for boaters.

“It’s gotten so bad that it’s affected sail boaters’ ability to leave their shore under wind power, and has affected racing, because the boats pick up weeds with the centerboards as you’re sailing, which makes you slower and not able to point as high into the wind,” said Paul Kirkpatrick, a member of Indianapolis Sailing Club who races his sailboats on Geist.

“No one was prepared for the level of milfoil that occurred this year,” said Doug Keller, the state Department of Natural Resources’ aquatic habitat coordinator. “The milfoil population has been on the rise for a number of years, but conditions seemed to really make this year one of the worst ever for milfoil at Geist.”

— The Associated Press