Reservoir proposal low on Indianapolis’ future water needs

(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The utility that provides much of the Indianapolis metropolitan area’s drinking water says it’ll take another 275 million gallons of water every day to satisfy the heavily populated region’s thirst a century from now.

Jeff Willman, the vice president of water operations for Citizens Energy Group, told a legislative panel that the eight-county region’s projected daily water needs are based on a growth rate of a half-percent a year in water usage.

Willman said the utility has three options for finding that water: taking more from the White River and Fall Creek south of Indianapolis, tapping into the Ohio River with a pipeline or drawing it from a new reservoir.

Willman said the three options are ranked according to cost-effectiveness with idea of building a new reservoir — including the proposed Mounds Lake Reservoir near Anderson — ranked as the least cost-effective, The Herald Bulletin reported.

“Building a brand new reservoir like Mounds has challenges. These are community, environmental and cost challenges,” he told the Legislature’s Interim Study Committee on Environmental Affairs last month.

Citizens Energy Group has expressed little interest in the proposed Mounds Lake project, which supporters propose creating by damming the White River in Anderson to form a 2,100-acre lake. The reservoir, which would extend from Anderson to Yorktown, has an estimated cost of nearly $450 million and would hold 11 billion gallons of water.

Two preliminary project studies have been completed, but a proposal to create a Mounds Lake Commission consisting of government officials from Anderson, Chesterfield, Daleville and Yorktown failed when Yorktown and Daleville officials voted not to participate.

The reservoir’s opponents maintain that it isn’t needed for water supplies, and would destroy natural habitat, dam the free-flowing White River and threaten historic sites.

Rob Sparks, the leader of efforts to build the reservoir, said Citizens Energy Group bases its water needs estimates on a 10-year drought event, while reservoir supporters base their estimates on the state’s worst-ever recorded drought, which happened in 1940 and 1941.

“For us, generally speaking, that is what the real need is,” said Sparks, executive director of the Madison County Corporation for Economic Development.

Citizen Energy estimates the Mounds Lake reservoir could provide 60 million gallons of water daily. The utility is turning a former limestone quarry near Geist Reservoir on the northeast side of Indianapolis into an additional reservoir that will hold 2.7 billion gallons of water and supply 25 million gallons of water daily.

Willman said most of the utility’s future need for water is expected to come from the White River’s waters south of Indianapolis.


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