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Study says Mounds Lake ‘feasible’

mounds-lake-projectA new study from a group promoting a two-county reservoir says the proposal is challenging, but feasible.

The Corporation for Economic Development of Anderson this week released an executive summary of a feasibility study for the latest phase of the multi-year project that would dam White River in Anderson, creating a 2,100-acre lake that would stretch from Anderson in Madison County and past Daleville to near Yorktown in Delaware County.

“The project is feasible to build,” Rob Sparks, executive director of the CED, said in releasing the report. “We believe it can fund its construction from water sales, and we believe there is a regional water need.”

The project, which would take years to complete if it goes forward, would create an 11-billion gallon reservoir at a cost of more than $440 million. The project has been moving through studies and public meetings for more than a year.

Opponents of the plan say the project — often cited by its creators for its economic-development and water-creation potential — isn’t needed. Opposition groups say Mounds Lake would have a negative impact, particularly on homes and businesses in Anderson that would be flooded, and on Mounds State Park and the park’s historical features.

Groups like the Heart of the River Coalition continue to oppose the project. Sheryl Myers, a group member, released to The Star Press a document, “Top 10 Concerns after Reading the Phase II Study Results”on Thursday.

Objections include not only the impact of the project — which the group believes will be negative — but no apparent demand for another source of water.

Myers maintained that “too many questions” are still without answers following the study.

“For example, no new borings were done beneath Mounds Mall where a large industrial-era dump is located. Neither a single wildlife survey nor a county drain assessment was done. Decision makers need more information.”

The summary released this week by the proponents of the Mounds Lake project, based on an engineering feasibility study by DLZ Engineering, seeks to refute the arguments of opponents.

“Mounds Lake is feasible from an engineering design standpoint,” the study noted. “Though a challenging project, this river corridor offers a unique opportunity to create a lake.”

The study cited water needs studies over the past decade by the city of Indianapolis as well the Indianapolis and Indiana chambers of commerce, indicating ongoing interest in the future of Central Indiana’s water supply.

A number of sites, “totaling 120 acres of the proposed 2,100-acre project footprint, were identified that potentially pose environmental concerns,” the study said. Remediation of contaminated sites could cost $35 million.

Environmental mitigation could include newly created wetland areas, development of a natural recreation area and development of an extensive trail network.

Among the arguments included in the Heart of River Coalition’s “Top 10” list released Thursday is the loss of archeological and historical treasures and irrevocable change to prehistoric earthworks.

The study released by the reservoir proponents noted that those opposed to the project will likely remain opposed.

“For a few, there is no amount of study that will convince them that this project should move forward,” the study said.

The Heart of the River Coalition and the League of Women Voters will hold a Mounds Lake community forum at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26 in the Yorktown High School auditorium. Natural resource professionals will talk about the latest report.

Source: The Star Press

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The Town of Daleville is located in Delaware County where I-69, Ind. 67 and Ind. 32 converge.

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