Mounds Lake

Indiana 32 crosses White River as it enters Chesterfield.

ANDERSON — Almost a year ago the proposed Mounds Lake reservoir project was dealt a setback when two town councils rejected an initial plan.

But supporters continue to work toward making the proposal a reality.

Last year the Daleville and Yorktown town councils voted to not join the Mounds Lake Commission, which would have been formed to plan and finance the $440 million reservoir project.

Opponents of the 2,100-acre reservoir, including the Hoosier Environmental Council and the Heart of the River, have presented an alternative to the reservoir plan. They suggest that a Mounds Greenway would instead become a trail system extending from Anderson to Muncie.

The reservoir concept developed as the need for a water supply is growing for Indianapolis.Citizens Energy Group is estimating the Indianapolis metropolitan area will require an additional 275 million gallons of water on a daily basis over the next 100 years.

But the proposed Mounds Reservoir has run into opposition.

Rob Sparks, spokesman for the reservoir project, said supporters continue to collect data looking at future population growth in central Indiana and water needs for the future.

“We’re doing an updated analysis of the water needs for the metropolitan Indianapolis area and the cost effectiveness of the reservoir,” he said.

Sparks said the group needs to raise $2 million to $5 million for water quality and additional geological studies.

Citizens Energy Group has expressed little interest in the proposed Mounds Lake project.

Tim Maloney, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, said Thursday he is surprised that there is still an effort to move the reservoir project forward.

“The reservoir is not feasible,” he said. “When you look at the needs for it, Citizens water has a long-term supply plan. They have a plan to supply their needs for the next 100 years.”

Maloney said he has not seen any information that contradicts that conclusion.

Sparks said on a project the size of the proposed reservoir supporters are looking at several different models including a public/private partnership.

He said the reservoir partnership is looking to answer questions raised during the initial debate concerning water quality as well as the organizational structure to move the project forward and the impact on the local economy.

“If Madison County can capture 20 percent of the population growth over the next 40 years there will be a need,” Sparks said. “We’re looking at the short- and long-term needs of the region.”

The group has not started efforts to raise the necessary funding for the water quality and geological studies.

Maloney said that there continues to be problems at reservoirs and lakes with blue-green algae outbreaks.

“There is no reason to believe it wouldn’t be a problem for a new reservoir on the White River,” he said.

The Hoosier Environment Council has proposed the Mounds Greenway which would consist of a trail system extending from Anderson to Muncie at an estimated cost of $40 million.

Maloney said the group is at the next stage of in-depth mapping and talks with land owners.

“We’re trying to determine who is willing to cooperate on the location of the trail and which areas are better suited for conservation.”

Sparks said the project will need an additional $20 million to $30 million when it advances to the permitting stage.

“We’re taking it one step at a time,” he said. “Determine the regional need and the viability.”

Sparks said more information will be made public this fall.

“We understand a majority of the people want more information,” he said. “What’s being considered is how to we modify the proposal.”

Sparks said the opponents of the project were raising concerns that should be addressed during the permitting phase. “They went to the end game,” he said.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.

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