Sparks: Mounds Lake project still on table because need will not go away

·3 min read

Jun. 16—ANDERSON — Rob Sparks said the proposed Mounds Lake reservoir project is not dead, because there is still a need for future water resources.

Sparks, with the Corporation for Economic Development, on Thursday gave an update on the Mounds Lake project at the Madison County Chamber of Commerce Wake-Up breakfast at Ivy Tech Community College.

The concept was first proposed in 2010, and an effort to form a commission to oversee the Mounds Lake project failed in 2016.

"The need won't go away," he said.

The estimated cost in 2016 was $500 million to construct a 2,100-acre lake extending from Scatterfield Road along the White River to Yorktown.

"We have to determine where we need to go as a state, region and community," Sparks said.

Sparks said the dynamics of the project changed when former Gov. Mike Pence was elected in 2016 as vice president.

He said there was a state feasibility study of water needs for the state and the Mounds Lake project is like a marathon with hurdles.

Sparks said the feasibility study looked at population growth in the Indianapolis region and based on the past 20 years the region's population is expected to grow from 2.1 million people to 2.7 million.

He said the projection is that the region will need an additional 100 million gallons of water on a daily basis.

"The study looked at the long term needs and factored in conservation measures and the history of droughts in the region," Sparks said.

Sparks noted the worst drought in Indiana took place in 1940 and 1941 and at some time there will be a return to a drought condition.

He said Madison County is being considered for new investments in the area of battery technology, electric vehicles, semiconductor manufacturing and food processing.

Those developments could require 2 million to 5 million gallons of water by 2026, Sparks said.

"As we see an evolution of how we do transportation, there will be new opportunities that will require a lot of water and a power supply and how we meet those challenges," he said.

Sparks said there is a lot of water pressure on the west coast of the United States, and companies will be looking to the Midwest because of the available water resources.

The state is planning to build a technology corridor from Indianapolis to West Lafayette along Interstate 69, said Clayton Whitson, director of the chamber.

Sparks said that there are no water resources available in that area and that discussions are taking place to pipe water from the Wabash or Ohio rivers to the region.

Sparks said an alternative study has to look at options like the cost, impact on the environment and benefits during a drought condition.

"The White River basin in Madison County is the focal point for 40% of the water," Sparks said. "Mounds Lake could release water to the metropolitan area corridor."

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.