Organization seeks alternative to Mounds Lake 

click to enlarge The projected map of Mounds Lake shows the area the reservoir will be expected to cover. - COURTESY OF MOUNDSLAKE.COM.
  • The projected map of Mounds Lake shows the area the reservoir will be expected to cover.
  • Courtesy of MoundsLake.com.

In a recent press release, the Hoosier Environmental Council calls for an alternative to the Mounds Lake project.

The project, which plans to dam the West Fork White River in Anderson, IN to create a reservoir, began over three years ago and has since caused extensive controversy, with thirteen separate organizations opposing the dam.

The Mounds Lake project was conceived in 2010 in response to a perceived need for economic renewal and overall sustainability. Hundreds of millions of dollars are projected to be used over the course of several years in order to prepare for, research, and construct the reservoir.

If successful, Mounds Lake would provide billions of gallons of water to central Indiana, in attempts to combat drought and flood impact.

Those behind the project ask for the aid and cooperation of the community at large, affirming that every possible outcome and environmental impact will be carefully analyzed before construction.

However, many have opposed the construction of the dam since its conception, citing possible damages to forests, recreation, tourism, and archaeological sites.

Indiana’s largest statewide environmental organization, the Hoosier Environmental Council, has jumped in on the debate, asking for an alternative to the plan, which they claim will cause irreparable damage to not only the environment, but also the area’s economy.

A large amount of Anderson’s economic gain draws from the recreation and tourism in and around the West Fork White River. The site draws locals and tourists alike, bringing in over 360,000 people each year for fishing, canoeing, and hiking, among other activities.

If the Mounds Lake project is successful, it will dam a seven-mile stretch of the river, compromising its ecological balance. Aside from being designated an Outstanding River of Indiana, the area also is home to almost 1,000 acres of hardwood forests that would be destroyed by the dam, taking numerous native species with it.

The river is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its Native American earthwork site, one of the best preserved in Indiana. There is a distinct possibility that this dam will also cause irreparable damage to this historic site, which draws history-enthralled tourists.

“The damming of the West Fork White River would cause major environmental damage, replacing a high-quality, free-flowing river ecosystem with an artificial reservoir, in the process drowning unique natural areas in Mounds State Park, destroying healthy bottomland hardwood forest along the river, as well as working class neighborhoods in the city of Anderson,” states Tim Maloney, senior policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council in the press release. “Man-made reservoirs are also vulnerable to siltation and blue-green algae contamination which seriously reduce their prospective benefits to anglers, boaters, lakefront property owners, and tourists.”

The Hoosier Environmental Council calls for an alternative to the project that does not include damming the river. Acknowledging the need for economic growth and renewal, they ask instead for a solution that work with a free-flowing river and natural adjoining lands.

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