Join Heart of the River on May 30, 2015, for a Protest Paddle ... a canoe and kayak trip down the threatened region of the West Fork White River. Learn more.

Top 10 Concerns after Reading the Phase II Study Results

White River

In early February 2015, the Corporation for Economic Development of Anderson released an executive summary of a feasibility study, conducted by DLZ Engineering, of the proposed dam project. You can read more about this in this Muncie The Star Press article.

These Phase II Study reports are currently available for public review. We have been told they will be posted there until at least February 25, but have no confirmation of how long beyond that, if at all, they will be available for public review. In response, Heart of the River has compiled the following list of concerns that remain after a detailed review of the Phase II study results.

1. The claim that we need an additional source of water in central Indiana is unfounded.

First and foremost, the Phase II report states, “several studies have been done to demonstrate a water need”. The studies, done by Citizen’s Water and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, in fact do NOT conclude that an additional source of water is needed in the foreseeable future. Citizen’s Water repeatedly denies that another reservoir is part of their 35-year plan, and the Chamber study cites the need for a comprehensive statewide water resource inventory. Indiana is known as a “wet” state because the northern half has abundant groundwater and surface water resources. If we enter an extended drought, there are many other measures that would be more cost effective than building a $440 million dollar dam and reservoir. So – if Citizen’s Water is not the customer, who is?

2. Local Residents will have diminished quality of life during construction and beyond.

Construction noise, loss of recreational opportunities, motorized vehicles on the reservoir, traffic detours, permanent road closures, use of eminent domain, loss of tax revenue during construction, destruction of wildlife habitat and wildlife viewing areas, and delays are all expected to cause diminished quality of life for many Madison and Delaware County residents. Those who have the most to lose also have the least to gain. And what if the customer base or funding sources fall through after construction has begun?

3. The Dam would have negative effects on the downstream portion of the river.

The Phase II study claims that the dam would leave the river downstream unchanged, and yet a recent letter from the US Fish and Wildlife Service states the exact opposite. Dams cause extensive downstream damage, both to the fishery and to the shoreline.

4. Our archaeological and historical treasures are threatened.

It is unrealistic to try to mitigate the 80+ recognized unique archaeological sites that would be inundated; sites that are so sensitive that they couldn’t be described in this study. In addition, there are historic buildings and a cemetery that will be negatively impacted, along with many undocumented sites.

5. The natural setting of our prehistoric earthworks would be irrevocably changed.

The natural setting of the mounds would be severely compromised if, as the report indicates, the bluffs along the reservoir are artificially reinforced to reduce nearby shoreline erosion. Extensive ravines near the earthworks present a drainage challenge that the report doesn’t acknowledge.

6. Too many questions remain unanswered (and unasked) by Phase II.

Too many issues received superficial examination in the Phase II study. For example, no new borings were done beneath Mounds Mall where a large industrial-era dump is located. Neither a single wildlife survey nor a county drain assessment was done. Decision makers need more information.

7. Transportation connectivity would be lost.

Area residents are being asked to make a decision about this dam without knowing which bridges will be rebuilt and which will be closed. North-south connectivity in our county would be severely compromised, and Madison Avenue (100 W) certainly isn’t able to carry more traffic. It can barely carry what it has now!

8. The Phase II report contains discrepancies.

The DLZ engineering report claims that 405 acres of hardwood forest will be affected. According to the Indiana Forest Alliance, the figure is over 950 acres of woods. There are also inaccuracies on the GIS maps (mislabeled state roads for example), lack of onsite verification for old gravel pits, failure to state the presence of migratory birds throughout the river corridor, and lack of reference to an already-completed extensive floral inventory of the nature preserve at Mounds State Park.

9. The Mounds Lake Commission would lack accountability.

If the Mounds Lake Commission is created, it will have virtually no oversight or accountability. No protocol has been set for appointments to the commission, no funding has been designated for its operation, and no transparency is mandated during its decision-making process.

10. Alternatives are not considered as required by federal law.

The Phase II study doesn’t examine any alternatives to building a dam to meet water needs, as required by federal regulatory agencies.