A feasibility study has found no major issues that would prevent a proposal for a reservoir in central Indiana from moving forward.
The state-funded study looked at the project's cost and environmental impact. The 2,100-acre Mounds Lake reservoir would be formed by putting an earthen dam on the White River in Anderson, with an estimated cost of $440 million.
Communities directly affected by the reservoir would have to form a 12-member joint commission for the project to continue. The commission would plan development, financing and construction, while also seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Rob Sparks, executive director of the Madison County Corporation for Economic Development, said an ordinance to create the commission would be presented to local governments in March. The development corporation oversaw the feasibility study.
"If the communities want to go forward with the project we need community leadership," Sparks told the Herald Bulletin of Anderson. "To move the project forward, we have to find funding and be able to negotiate. No private group can do that."
The area that would be flooded includes Anderson's Mounds Mall, about 400 homes and part of Mounds State Park.
IBJ looked at the possible pros and cons of the project in a Dec. 20 feature story.
Project advocates say it would improve flood control, boost economic development and create another water source for central Indiana.
Others have voiced concern over the environmental impact of a reservoir. The study found it would cost $35 million to clean up potential problem areas.
Project specialist Chad Pigg said the state park's mounds, also a subject of concern, would be protected. They were built more than 2,000 years ago by the Adena-Hopewell people. But a popular trail along the river would be flooded, Pigg said.
An alternative to the reservoir plan being promoted by the Hoosier Environmental Council would see the land used for conservation areas and a bike path between Anderson and Muncie. That plan would cost $15 million to $40 million.