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Hoosier Environmental Council opposes dam on White River

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The Hoosier Environmental Council has added its name to the list of environmental groups opposing a proposed seven-mile long reservoir along the White River in central Indiana, saying it would have harmful and long-lasting consequences.

Madison County officials last year proposed the Mounds Lake Reservoir near Anderson, saying the would boost economic development, improve flood control, create prime real estate for waterfront housing and increase property values.  It would also be a future water supply for central Indiana as the population grows.

Tim Maloney, the council's senior policy director, said its concerns are similar to those raised by other opponents, including the impact on Mounds State Park, forest areas and the river's ecosystem. He said a free-flowing river and adjoining natural lands can provide a novel approach to sustainable economic development.

"It's an underappreciated gem of a natural resource we don't want to see drowned under a reservoir," Maloney said.

An environmental study is being conducted for the 2,100-acre lake that's estimated to cost between $350 million and $450 million to build. A 50-foot-high earthen dam would create a lake in Madison and Delaware counties slightly larger than Geist Reservoir on the northeast side of Indianapolis.

Supporters say the reservoir could also provide bike paths, fishing and other recreational activities.

Rob Sparks, the director of the Corporation for Economic Development, which is pushing for the project, told The Herald Bulletin that work continues on the feasibility study and the local group is comfortable with the information being obtained.

"This is a cost-effective solution to regional water-supply issues," he said. "It will also enhance other quality-of-life issues in the region."

Maloney said the Hoosier Environmental Council wants alternatives that don't include damming the river.

"We hope to announce that plan within the next 60 days. It's something that would extend beyond the proposed reservoir boundaries," he said.

Several other environmental groups have spoken out against the project.

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said several issues must be addressed before the Mounds Lake Reservoir project can move forward.

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  • Reservoirs have ecosystems
    The idea that somehow an 'artificial' reservoir has an inferior ecosystem is an implied falsehood. The river ecosystem fails to supply water to human beings. This can be changed to a reservoir ecosystem that will. The reservoir ecosystem is a clear winner here.
  • Put your money where your water is
    I think the next time we have a significant drought, which we've been having with increasing regularity, the HEC proponents should allow for immediate shut-off of their residential water supplies. Showers and drinking water are environmentally irresponsible.
  • can he say this when drought hits
    I think his statements are not right, given the drought we had 2 years ago, Indianapolis and Central Indiana need the water. This does however pose an issue for all farms and towns south of Indianapolis which may depend upon the White River to replenish their groundwater and irrigate their crops and fields. It would however prevent future flooding in Southern and Central Indiana by controlling the White River which really isn't much of a river, but a large creek. It can in no way be compared to the Ohio, Mississipi and in many ways even the Wabash river. Damming it up and controlling flow would make sense, create a huge water supply for Indiana and in essence create a recreational facility for all citizens unlike Geist which is pretty much for residents only. Central Indiana needs more water features and this is it, could have a significant impact on the economy and future of Indianapolis and North of Indianapolis. Anderson, Muncie, Marion, Noblesville, Fishers, and the I69 corridor need this. The good of the many outweighs the good of the few or the one. Move forward with it and don't let environmentalists stop it or delay it. People need water, it is the life giving resource we cannot do without and his arguments literally don't hold water.

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