A controversial proposal to dam the White River in Anderson and create a 2,100-acre reservoir stretching east to Yorktown should be studied by a legislative committee this summer, a Muncie lawmaker said.
Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, has urged Republican leaders on the Interim Study Committee on Environmental Affairs to take up the proposed Mounds Reservoir. Errington is the ranking Democratic member on the House Environmental Affairs Committee and also sits on the interim study committee.
Errington said in a news release that committee’s vice chair, Rep. Dave Wolkins, R-Warsaw, expressed willingness to discuss the reservoir proposal. She said she hopes Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, will schedule hearings on the proposal.
Charbonneau was noncommittal Thursday about hearing the issue, noting interim study committee leaders have less discretion than in the past to add topics to summer schedules. He said he’d like to hear information about how the recent announcement that Citizens Energy will build a $20 million reservoir at an 88-acre former rock quarry in Fishers might impact the Mounds Reservoir plans.
Residents and their representatives in Madison and Delaware counties are divided on whether to proceed with the planned $450 million lake being pushed by officials in Anderson.
Advocates say the reservoir would be a needed economic catalyst for the region and provide a solution for long-term water supplies. Opponents say the project would irreparably damage unique environmental areas and ancient archaeological and burial sites at Mounds State Park, and that water from the reservoir isn’t needed.
The Anderson City Council has given initial approval to the creation of a Mounds Lake Commission, but county councilors and commissioners next door in Delaware County have voted against creating the commission. Muncie’s city council also has rejected the proposal.
Towns east of Anderson that would be impacted by the creation of Mounds Reservoir – Chesterfield, Daleville and Yorktown – tentatively have scheduled votes in August on creating the commission.
Errington said she hopes the committee will look at Mounds Reservoir and water distribution systems relevant to the White, Wabash and Ohio River basins.
“In Delaware County, the issue has been a hot one because of the magnitude of potential problems that would be created by the reservoir,” Errington said. “The White River would be dammed in Anderson, which means the shallow end would be in Delaware County, almost reaching to Yorktown. The Mounds Mall in Anderson, which was built on a landfill, would be flooded because of the reservoir. Likewise, 400 homes, several businesses and part of the Mounds State Park would be permanently under water.
“There are so many issues created by the Mounds Reservoir project that need to be addressed,” Errington said. “This legislative study committee is an appropriate place to examine those issues and get some answers.”
In addition to reviewing the water distribution systems, the Interim Study Committee on Environmental Affairs will also will take a look at landfills and the statutes governing solid waste management districts, Errington said.
In addition to Errington, Rep. Greg Beumer, R-Modoc, is the only other lawmaker on the 12-member study committee who represents part of the area that would be affected by the reservoir. Beumer represents a portion of Delaware County.