A few weeks ago, the Upper White River Watershed Alliance released a position statement of concern about the planned reservoir. It enumerated seven potential high-impacts on the natural and cultural fabric. It cited its “deep knowledge” about the watershed, and urged the promoter to undertake comprehensive, holistic analysis of the plan.
The Alliance is well known and respected has been operating for about 15 years. With the depth of knowledge available, it’s curious that the CED did not initially seek to consult before it launched its plan and before it sought $650,000 in public funds for a phase 2 study.
It’s an insightful position statement and a welcomed addition to the increasing chorus of skeptical voices. However, the statement comes more than a year following the announcement of the plan. Perhaps if the UWRWA had issued their statement earlier – last summer, for instance – it might have persuaded the policy-makers in Governor Pence’s office to be more circumspect, and restrained, in the gift of such a big grant for the CED’s phase 2 study.
Perhaps not. If, as posited by some, the grant was simply a pay-back to the DLZ engineering firm for its previous political support, then no amount of a priori expertise and deep knowledge would be sufficient to prevent such a colossal waste of public funds. We’ve seen this over and over in Indiana‘s corrupt politicized system.
The CED’s shallow, i.e. ill-defined, plan is the virtual antithesis of the kind of comprehensive plan which the UWRWA advocates. In these times of easily available research and best practices, it’s hard to fathom how the CED could be so shallow– that is, until its self-serving motives are recalled.
Can the reservoir plan survive the scrutiny ultimately applied via deep knowledge? Can it survive the opposition of those who would exert “friendly persuasion” or even “deep green resistance” (to borrow Derrick Jensen’s book title)? Time will tell. Politics can always trump accepted science and ecological common sense. In the interim, DLZ will likely spend down the grant to the last nickel.