More Questions from the Heart of the River : ANSWERED

1) What is the role of the Mounds Lake Commission?


The Mounds Lake Commission will be a newly created government unit consisting of representatives from each of the impacted government bodies within Delaware and Madison counties. The role of the commission will be to oversee and direct the process to advance the Mounds Lake project. If successful the commission’s efforts will ultimately lead to the construction of Mounds Lake and the development of a public utility to finance the project.

As a recognized government unit, the Mounds Lake Commission will be subject to the same public transparency requirements as other government bodies such as town, city and county councils. The commission will have no taxing authority, but could utilize funds from the water utility for various purposes including maintenance and operation of the reservoir. A resolution and proposed ordinance are contained in the CED Community Report. This report is available for review at


2) How realistic is the timeframe?


The permitting process for the Mounds Lake project is anticipated to take 18 months to 3 years. Lawsuits are always a possibility with any major construction project. The overall planning, permitting, development and construction timelines outlined in the Phase II reports have been carefully considered and are feasible.


3) How was the $400 million cost estimate determined?


The cost estimates came from numerous consultants, accounting professionals and engineers. Estimating each cost category has been a rigorous and thorough process. Each utility estimated the cost to relocate and replace the various infrastructure that will be impacted if Mounds Lake is constructed. Engineers familiar with major public works and construction projects estimated the cost to permit and design the project. The engineers also estimated a wide range of other project costs including land acquisition, dam construction, bridge and road construction, and wetland mitigation. In addition a thorough risk based analysis was made to estimate the cost to address any subsurface environmental concerns. Project leadership has a very high level of confidence in the overall project cost estimate.


4) What does the cost estimates include?


The estimated cost includes all costs to design, permit and construct the Mounds Lake project. The project team is confident in the $440 million dollar cost estimate. This cost estimate will be refined as new information becomes available in the next phase of work. The project team estimated on the conservatively high side for all budget line items. There may actually be opportunities for cost savings as the project moves forward. All the budget items inquired about, have been considered within the project cost estimates.
$125 million in dam construction
$ 95 million in land acquisition
$ 80 million in road and bridge construction
$ 60 million in utility relocation and replacement
$ 45 million in various mitigation projects
$ 35 million in potential subsurface environmental site cleanup


5) What happens if the funding falls short?


The local communities will have no responsibility for the construction debt for the Mounds Lake project. The public elected officials that will serve as commissioners on the Mounds Lake Commission are not paid, by state code. The commission has no taxing authority, can’t commit taxing units to bonding and will need to find funding from outside grants, partnerships or revenue from sales of water to operate. In addition, many stakeholders have expressed interest in maintaining local control of Mounds Lake. This will allow local communities to control important operational issues and direct water utility revenues.


6) What negative effects could the dam have on Anderson?


Any project of this size will have impacts (both positive and negative), and all efforts will be made to minimize negative impacts to the extent possible. Many of these potential impacts will be studied in more detail in the next phase of the project. The commission will need to coordinate many activities in order to move this project forward as smoothly as possible. Taxes lost during construction will be a cost to the project and lost revenue will be paid to the units until the lost AV is replaced. Contracts for the sale of water would need to be in place to support the bonding for construction. In any case the local taxing units will not have any responsibility in the debt.

It is not possible to quantitatively measure “quality of life”, but with the increased natural recreation opportunities, miles of trails and positive impact to the local economy that this project will bring, the Mounds Lake team believes the quality of life for area citizens will be enhanced if the project is completed.


7) Will the dam hold water?


Yes. The Phase II engineering study examined this issue. Additional data will be collected in Phase III and if areas of concern are discovered that require some type of engineered control, they will be properly addressed.


8) Is the need for water really an issue?


There have been multiple water resource studies completed over the last 10 years by various stakeholder organizations. Three of the more recent reports are hosted at for review. These reports illustrate a need for additional water resources for central Indiana. Furthermore, the Mounds Lake project will be required to demonstrate a clear water need in order to secure the necessary permits from state and federal agencies. We look at this as a regional project and do not speak for any utility.

Here are a few excerpts from the water reports available for review at
Central Indiana has Marginal Supplies
The water supply in Central Indiana is diverse. It includes diversions from the West Fork of the White River, storage in water supply reservoirs in tributary streams, and groundwater from shallow and deep aquifers. The diversification of the water portfolio reflects the fact that there is no single solution to water supply and growth in this portion of the state. Supplies are limited and, without new sources, economic growth may falter.”

“As the water utilities in the middle of the state consider new well fields to satisfy growth, conservation and demand management will become standard policy in meeting seasonal peak demand for water. Limited groundwater and relatively low flows in streams limit available options. This part of the state will need to build new surface water storage capable of satisfying future demands or develop well fields in other watersheds. The latter alternative will require that water from distant well fields be piped in to meet the demands of population growth.”
“Compounding strain on central Indiana’s water resources is the region’s growing population. Hamilton and Hendricks counties are two of the fastest growing counties in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004). The population in these two counties and in Boone, Hancock, and Johnson counties is expected to increase more than 20 percent between 2005 and 2025 (Indiana Business Research Center, 2008). A 2004 central Indiana water report states that the region’s surface water supplies are nearly fully developed and that net surface water use will likely exceed minimum stream flow requirements (7Q10) before 2020 (Malcolm Pirnie, 2004). As a result, central Indiana’s surface water supplies will no longer be available to meet future water demand. Public water suppliers, industrial users, and energy producers (the three largest withdrawers of surface water) will have to use groundwater when new sources are needed. Currently, groundwater is central Indiana’s buffer against drought. However, if groundwater withdrawals increase, less will be available during water shortages. Consequently, managing central Indiana’s surface water and groundwater supplies now is imperative for the region’s continued economic vitality.”
(Central Indiana’s Regional Water Supply, Indy Chamber, Spring 2010,Executive Summary, pg. vi)
“With the constraints and assumptions used in this evaluation, it is concluded that the existing water system in Indianapolis will not be able to yield enough water to meet demands during climate conditions similar to the 1940-1941 drought-of-record. This assumes the addition of several wells added to the existing wellfields, and the proposed Waverly wellfield and existing treatment plant upgrades… If the 1988 drought conditions recur and the existing reservoirs and wellfields are operated efficiently, the system may produce enough water to meet average day demands. Additionally, the system may not be able to meet the summertime peak demands without significant reductions in future consumption through water use restrictions or conservation.”
(Black & Veatch Phase II Yield and Demand Study, Veolia Water, October 2008, pg. 206)
“As shown in Figure 10-20 in Section 10.4.3, even if consumption is significantly reduced through water restrictions, the magnitude of the maximum day yield deficit could be on the order of approximately 100 mgd or more by 2020, if the drought-of-record were to occur again.”
(Black & Veatch Phase II Yield and Demand Study, Veolia Water, October 2008, pg. 214)


9) Aren’t there other options available for providing water?


It’s accurate that a study of alternatives will be required to demonstrate Mounds Lake is the best solution for the water needs of the central region of Indiana. It will be part of the Phase III scope prior to the permitting of the project. Evaluating available water supply options has not been a focus as part of the feasibility studies, because this was not the appropriate stage of the project for these tasks. That said, the 2008 Black & Veatch report hosted at, did provide budget estimates for alternatives to deliver the volume of water predicted to be needed. Mounds Lake is estimated to cost less than the options noted in this report and have less impact on the environment than the noted options.

(Black & Veatch Phase II Yield and Demand Study, Veolia Water, October 2008, pg. 215)


10) Would the reservoir guarantee an increase in recreational opportunities and tourism?


Quality of life and careful long term planning has been a focus from the early days of the proposed project. New trails, art and cultural opportunities and public access in all four communities is a high priority to all stakeholders and is a core value to the Mounds Lake project.


11) Isn’t the reservoir Anderson’s only hope?


Anderson’s best hope, as well as the other communities involved, is in the people of the community. The teachers and the preachers. The visionary and the laborer. We live here and work here. Together, regardless of the Mounds Lake project, the impacted communities will do more than survive, we will thrive!


12) Aren’t dams a thing of the past?


There are over 80,000 dam structures across this country. A quick Google search finds reservoirs under design or construction in Georgia, Florida, Texas and California. There are several dams being removed dating from 30 years old to one from the 18th century. Most of the dams being removed are more than 100 years old and no longer needed.
Dams across the world provide billions of people drinking water, flood control and electricity. Dams will continue to be an important infrastructure component of growing regions for the foreseeable future.