updated: 3/15/2013 2:07:29 PM
The Anderson/Madison County Corporation for Economic Development is proposing an ambitious $350-$400 million reservoir project. "Project Oasis," the code name for the Mounds Lake project, would use the White River as its source and encompass more than 2,000 acres throughout Madison and Delaware counties.
Executive Director Rob Sparks says the plan would lead to increased economic development opportunities and improve flood and drought control in the area.
He says a yet-to-be-determined amount of homes and retail space would be displaced.
The project could be complete around 2020.
March 14, 2013
ANDERSON, Ind. - The Anderson/Madison County Corporation for Economic Development (CED) today, March 14th, 2013, announced the completion of a study that confirms the feasibility and first steps of pursuing Project Oasis -- construction of a 2,100-acre reservoir.
Project Oasis is the code name for Mounds Lake, drawing on White River as its water supply. The effort would require construction of a 50-foot high earthen dam just east of East Lynn and 18th Street in Anderson, backing water up in Delaware County to around 300 South and South High Banks Road. CED Executive Director Rob Sparks said Mounds Lake was first conceived in 2010 at a Madison County Leadership Academy (MCLA) visioning session by Quinn Ricker of Ricker Oil. Sparks, also a member of the MCLA class, continued to work with Rickerís vision and develop the current project scope.
Mounds Lake will control billions of gallons of water in Central Indiana that will mitigate future drought and flood impact, enabling the entire region to grow economically for years to come. At the dam, Mounds Lake will capture and control more than 400 square miles of the White River shed, a 67 percent increase over the combined watershed of Eagle Creek, Geist, and Morse reservoirs.
Sparks said Indiana law permits five taxing districts to collaborate in developing the project. They include Anderson, Chesterfield, Daleville, Madison and Delaware Counties. These units will be encouraged to form a Mounds Lake Commission (MLC), composed of ten locally-elected officials to pursue the project.
The next task will be to complete a Phase II feasibility study. In addition, the MLC also will look for a regional, national, or international funder with interest in partnering or controlling a major water resource in Central Indiana. The proposed Phase II feasibility study will review in part a "Smart Water" option. It is believed Mounds Lake can feed Morse and Geist to maximize water levels with surplus flow. The study will also include engineering environmental reports with an estimated cost of $300,000.
Sparks acknowledged that a number of home, business, and property owners will be impacted, if the project continues. "It's just too early to know specifically every property that will be affected", Sparks said. "The only land that would be acquired will be for the 2,100 acres of the lake, public access points, and mitigation sites. No land will be acquired for future development. The lake also will affect some bridges and highways in the area," he said.
Sparks said initial planning for the project has taken nearly three years to get to this juncture. In best case timeline, six months to complete the Phase II studies. Two or three years will be required for preliminary design and permitting at an estimated cost of $10 million, he said, followed by three to four years for final design and construction, which may run in the range of $350 million to $400 million.
That schedule implies a completion of the project around 2020, assuming we find a funder for the project. "Mounds Lake was initially envisioned as a development project for Anderson," Sparks said. "It has since grown and now has the ability to transform not only Madison and Delaware Counties, but all of Central Indiana. From enhancing the quality of life with public access points in each community, trails and wildlife, to new construction of homes and businesses, Mounds Lake will become a catalyst for new investment and employment opportunities for generations."
The Anderson / Madison County Corporation for Economic Development is a 501c3 non-profit that was incorporated in 1983. The mission of the Corporation for Economic Development is to plan and undertake activities leading to steady job growth, increasing economic diversity, and a strengthened employer base which enhance the quality of life of Madison County, Indiana.
Sources: The Anderson/Madison County Corporation for Economic Development