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Local League of Women Voters opposes Mounds Lake Reservoir

This letter of support from Sheryl K. Monnier and Norma Abbey, the co-presidents of the League of Women Voters of Anderson, was provided on June 19, 2015, as they formally announced that they were joining the oppositional movement against the continued pursuit of the Mounds Lake Reservoir:

The League of Women Voters of Anderson has been studying the information presented on the proposed Mounds Lake Reservoir and has reached a position of opposition to this project.

Too many risks are associated with this project to allow formation of the Mounds Lake Commission that would have authority to issue permits and spend tremendous amounts of taxpayer and/or grant money to move this project forward.

We have concerns in addition to those included in the Ball State University peer review, which summarizes several shortcomings of the Phase 2 study by highlighting likely threats to the aquifer systems that the city of Anderson and thousands of county residents rely on for drinking water.

Threats include the loss of a third of Mounds Park and the threats to the 2,000-year-old mounds, the inundation of the Fen Nature Preserve, the enormous costs that may or may not be recouped from the sale of water years from now, and the physical divide to our city caused by the loss of roadways that will have significant negative impacts on school bus routes and emergency response to many areas.

The polarizing effect this project is already having within our county and between our county and our neighbors in Delaware County has already been destructive to our sense of community and will only be amplified.

Before other governing bodies join Anderson City Council in approving the formation of this reservoir commission, preliminary approvals for the project must be shown from the following entities: Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corp of Engineers, state and federal forestry services, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Agency and others.

To date, we have not seen buy in by any of these agencies and, in fact, we have seen a written statement from the Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service that says, “The Service concurs with the EPA that the proposed dam and reservoir project is unlikely to be the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative” as required by the Clean Water Act. (April 24, 2015, letter to Jon LaTurner, DLZ.). Neither the Phase 2 study nor the Ball State review addressed the risks posed to the areas of the city downstream from the dam. It is unbelievable that a group of investors would see any financial reason to choose a dam location, that when a problem occurs, would result in flooding of the heart of an urban area, damaging churches, the Paramount Theater and our library and would likely result in loss of life.

Although there are ways to lessen the possibility of dam failure, addressing each possible failure mode will increase the costs tremendously. We know there will be unforeseen events and that we can spend enormous sums of money to reduce risks, but they cannot be completely eliminated. Locating a dam in our city cannot possibly be made safe, no matter how much money we spend.

Certainly we need to address future water needs and the need for economic development in our area, but this project is not the answer. We are opposed to handing over authority to the Mounds Lake Commission before an acceptable plan is developed.

A project with this magnitude of impact on all citizens in the counties affected should be specifically approved by the voters before moving forward. We should instead bring people together to support the Mounds Greenway, the development of Athletic Park and renovation of its historic swimming pool.