Opponents of proposed reservoir vow to fight commission

Opponents of a proposed $450 million central Indiana reservoir are vowing to continue their efforts to stop the creation of a commission that would handle planning for that project.

The Anderson City Council on Thursday adopted an ordinance in favor of the Mounds Lake Commission, but the communities of Chesterfield, Daleville and Yorktown also must sign onto the commission concept.

That multi-governmental agency would oversee planning of the proposed Mounds Lake Reservoir, a 2,100-acre lake stretching seven miles through Madison and Delaware counties that would be created by damming the White River in Anderson. The commission needs to be formed before a third-phase feasibility study expected to cost $28 million can proceed.

But Sheryl Myers of the Heart of the River Coalition, one of several environmental groups that oppose the reservoir project, said she believes local councils in Chesterfield, Daleville and Yorktown are divided on whether to support the idea.

"We'll keep trying to educate people. We're hoping none of the other councils adopt the ordinance," she told The Herald Bulletin of Anderson.

The proposal has gained the support of several economic development agencies, but officials in Delaware County recently voted against supporting the proposed commission.

Madison County Corporation for Economic Development Executive Director Rob Sparks, who's spearheading efforts to build the reservoir, said that under the structure of the ordinance passed by Anderson, the town councils in Chesterfield, Daleville and Yorktown have to approve the commission measure.

He said if one of the four government entities doesn't join the commission, the other three will have to decide how best to move forward.

"We're going to make our presentation to the town councils, and see how they react," Sparks said.

Supporters say the reservoir would be a boon to Anderson, boosting real estate values, drawing tourists and spurring development while providing another water supply for central Indiana.

The project's opponents, including Heart of the River and the Hoosier Environmental Council, say the reservoir isn't needed for water supplies and warn that the project would waste millions of dollars, flood a stretch of the river, destroy wildlife habitat and threaten historic sites.

Last week, the Indiana Division of the Izaak Walton League of America adopted a resolution opposing the reservoir project. The group instead endorsed a proposed Mounds Greenway that would create conservation areas and a bike path linking Anderson and Muncie at a cost of $15 million to $40 million.

"Dams turn real rivers into fake lakes, lakes that soon fill with silt and polluted runoff," Tim Russell, the group's state president, said in a written statement.

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