Mounds Reservoir is a costly & destructive mess for Madison & Delaware Counties
The Mounds Reservoir project began as an idea proposed during the 2010 Madison County Leadership Academy. The Anderson/Madison County Corporation for Economic Development (CED) then contracted a Phase I feasibility study conducted by DLZ Engineering of Indianapolis. The concept is to dam the White River to construct a 2,100 acre reservoir from Madison into Delaware County.
This began as an idea centered around economic development (bringing in more tourism dollars from recreational activities), which was stated in the December 8, 2011, Phase I feasibility study conducted by DLZ. Later, the Anderson CED began touting the need for water as a justification for building the reservoir. Let’s take a look at the facts:
This is a want, not a need.
We do not need the water, plain and simple. The DLZ feasibility study clearly states the wish to have Indianapolis-based Citizens Water purchase the water from the proposed Mounds Reservoir. However, in their September 2, 2014, presentation to the Indiana General Assembly Interim Study Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications, Citizens Water clearly told state legislators that they had more than enough local water resources to develop in order to supply water to their customers for the next 25+ years. Citizens Water also said that these local resources would be far cheaper to their customers than the development of a new reservoir.
Regional “Water Shortages” vs. Regional “Water Capacity Shortages”
Supporters of the proposed Mounds Reservoir argue that the reservoir is needed to respond to a regional “water shortage”. However, there is a critical difference between a “water shortage” - a physical lack of fluid water - versus a “water-capacity shortage”, i.e., an inadequate number of water production and treatment facilities. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce water study released in August 2014 points to a water-capacity shortage, and a reservoir is not what is needed to solve that problem.
How much would it cost?
The CED has said that the construction of the reservoir will cost $400 million. However, this is simply the cost to construct the actual reservoir. Here are just a few of the things that are not being included:
- The cost of relocating all the utility infrastructure in the reservoir’s footprint, which will undoubtedly be paid for by utility ratepayers.
- The cost of rebuilding existing bridges and/or building new bridges.
- The cost of relocating people and businesses that are in the reservoir’s footprint.
- The cost of building new recreational facilities (after destroying the existing ones).
- The cost of environmental cleanup that will have to be done before constructing the reservoir (estimated to be at least $35 million in the Phase II study conducted by SESCO group).
Not surprisingly, this is not being made clear. The Indiana Finance Authority has granted $650,000 of our tax dollars to the Anderson CED for the Phase II study, so taxpayers have already paid more than half a million dollars just to study this project. The information available suggests that the CED is hoping to receive grants and loans to pay for the construction, and that the CED hopes that Citizens Water customers will pay those loans off by purchasing the water once the reservoir is constructed. However, Citizens Water has stated no need or desire to purchase this water. There do not seem to be any other potential funders if Citizens Water refuses. The CED has been denied funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If the reservoir is built and nobody buys the water, there is no doubt that as taxpayers, we will be left holding the bag.
If this project comes to fruition, over 400 families (and many businesses and places of worship) will lose their homes to the reservoir. These properties would unequivocally be taken through eminent domain, with no recourse for the affected families, businesses, and communities.
What else will be lost?
There is a possibility that the reservoir, if constructed, won’t hold water.
There is an alternative: the Mounds Greenway.
Take Action Now!