I attended the November 20th meeting of Citizens Waters’ Technical Advisory Group. During the Public Comments portion of the agenda, I provided copies of the Heart of the River Coalition’s two-page Case Statement in Opposition to the planned dam and reservoir.
During the ensuing discussion, Citizens officials acknowledged that no one from the Pence administration had contacted Citizens Water to inquire about the feasibility or desirability of a new reservoir as a new source of central Indiana water supply. (Gov. Pence’s news release announcing the $600,000 grant award noted the supposed nexus to central Indiana’s future water supply). Also, significantly, Dan Considine (Citizens’ Manager of Corporate Communications) reiterated at the meeting that, on Citizens’ priority list of potential new water supply sources, a new reservoir is near the very bottom of the list.
At this point, one can only speculate why the Pence administration didn’t perform due diligence before it decided, via the Indiana Finance Authority, to dole out $600,000 to fund a “Phase II” feasibility study for the CED’s planned dam. Did it not matter what the impediments or potential problems might be? Was it enamored by the CED’s sales pitch about promoting economic development in the Anderson area? Did it want to make a political gesture to east-central Indiana. (albeit using OPM– Other Peoples’ Money)?
On November 18th, I called the Indiana Finance Authority and left a voice message for its Director of Environmental Programs (Jim McGoff) who, I was told by an IFA staffer, is the appropriate point of contact. I am hoping to receive information about how or whether the IFA evaluated the request for public funds. We’ll keep trying to reach him. If he doesn’t respond, we’ll be forced to file records requests under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act. (For an informative primer on open government (records and meetings), see Steve Key’s recent presentation to the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations at the following link. His presentation starts at 24:26 minutes into the video. Mr. Key is General Counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association.)
Many of the environmental experts with whom I’ve spoken about the planned dam and reservoir are quick to mention the scientific drawbacks to the plan and to new dams in general. Surely, Gov. Pence’s experts at the Departments of Environmental Management and Natural Resources could also advise him on these questions. One wonders if Gov. Pence’s staff also decided not to bother to consult their own agency experts at IDEM and DNR.