Waking up to conservation– every day

River preservationist Valerie Gordon recently posted a comment that “Conservation is something we have to wake up to every day!”
Waking up to conservation every day might seem like a novel idea in our central Indiana consumer culture in which utility companies have consistently promoted the idea that supply is unlimited, be it water, electricity, or gas. And it might not seem as inviting or inspiring as, say, waking up next to your true love, a tasty breakfast, bright sunshine or an illuminating daily newspaper.
However, it’s an idea whose time has clearly arrived as our crashing climate and other evidence increasingly confirms.  
So who will be up to the task?  Will we all participate or just the low and moderate income portion of our society? I mention this because in my generally prosperous neighborhood in Indianapolis, several of my immediate neighbors always leave outdoor lights burning throughout the day.  They’re either oblivious to or contemptuous of the idea of conservation and minimizing resource-waste. Is conservation of diminishing resources only for persons of modest means who are seeking to save money?  Will wealthy communities such as Carmel and Zionsville wake up and be willing to participate in serious conservation? Will their elected officials encourage or require it?  This remains to be seen.   

Pertinent article refutes claimed “water shortage”

The Autumn issue of the Indiana Forest Alliance’s newsletter carries another interesting article challenging the dam/reservoir plan.  It was written by Tony Fleming, a Licensed Professional Geologist.
He concludes, as follows:
“…it seems rather premature and irresponsible for reservoir proponents to be invoking the specter of ‘water shortages’ as a primary rationale for the project. Moreover, as the Chamber report makes clear, water conservation has to play a major role in meeting future needs.  Yet few, if any, of these supposedly water-short central Indiana communities have embraced even the most basic water conservation tactics.”
For the full text of Fleming’s article, visit the Newsletters section of http://www.indianaforestalliance.org.

Will elected officials hear us? Will they even listen?

On August 21st I attended one of the outreach sessions sponsored by the CED.  One of the Yorktown town councilors was present for several hours, although he never visited our HTR table to talk nor did he solicit any of our literature.  After several hours of seeing him talk with visitors and CED representatives, I approached him to have a conversation.  I asked if his town council had taken a position on the proposed reservoir.  He replied that it had not, but then offered that “personally, at this juncture, I’m in support of it”.  I then asked him if he had had the opportunity to visit the HTR website and read about our concerns and objections in the case statement and related materials.  He replied that he had not.
This exchange made me wonder about the mindset of local officials, or at least some local officials, who seem to be provisionally “for” a reservoir based upon a limited understanding of the full range of issues, and the reasons that a reservoir might be a bad idea.
One explanation for the apparent lack of curiosity and interest in examining both sides might be that support is simply the easier position based upon the slick public sales job by the CED if not also the political considerations. Or perhaps they actually believe that they have considered and weighed all the evidence.  It’s impossible to know what is in their minds.
All local elected officials, upon taking office, are sworn to an oath of office to uphold the Constitution and the laws of Indiana.  They are public officials doing the public’s work.  Yet the public’s work, especially on an issue this huge, warrants a dutiful, thorough, and objective consideration of all the public interest facets.  At least that is how it should work.
A related question: Will officials be able to resist the allure of power as prospective Mounds lake commissioners?   Each jurisdiction would appoint two representatives. Might some of these local officials be candidates for appointment to a Mounds Lake Commission, and might these appointments might be viewed by them as positions of power and influence in their communities and/or as a political stepping stone?  I wonder if some of these officials are looking at it in this way.  If a commission is created, the commissioners will have significant power and control over what happens in their communities. We hope that a desire for power and influence is not a factor in their thinking or their favorable preliminary inclinations to the reservoir plan..

IFA’s newsletter highlights greenway’s relative benefits

The Autumn issue of the Indiana Forest Alliance’s Forest Defender provides a succinct summary of 5 of the principal relative benefits of the proposed Mounds greenway.  They are:
1.  A greenway is far less expensive than a reservoir.
2.  A greenway can become a reality faster than a reservoir.
3.  No eminent domain (takings of private property) is necessary for a greenway.
4.   A greenway protects the greatest water supply available in central Indiana.
5.  A greenway will preserve a free-flowing river for 10 miles in a pristine setting and provide park land desperately needed in this part of Indiana.
Of course, there are many other benefits which would derive from an end result of no dam and reservoir. Many of those are listed in the materials available on the website of the Heart of the River Coalition: http://www.moundslakereservoir.org 
For the full text of Jeff Stant’s article, visit: http://www.indianforestalliance.org

Madison County Council postpones consideration of a Mounds Lake Commission

Anderson’s The Herald Bulletin ran a report today that the Madison County Council has determined to postpone deliberation on a Mounds Lake Commission which had been scheduled for discussion at its meeting this evening.  The report indicated the CED’s Rob Sparks had requested the postponement because its Phase II feasibility study had not yet been completed.
Why did Mr. Sparks wait until the eleventh hour (i.e. until after the matter had been placed on the Council’s public agenda) to request postponement?  Obviously, he has known that the study would not be complete (and the $650,000 public gift not fully drawn down until the end of the calendar year).
Almost anyone watching this realized that it would be grossly premature to form a Commission without first completing the feasibility analysis.  But that is what the CED apparently was planning on.  Mr. Sparks wanted these county and town councils to form a commission before they were even informed re the plan’s financial, engineering and environmental feasibility.
There are other possibilities.  Perhaps the Council informally asked him to postpone it based on political reasons or on reasons pertaining to proper administrative/governance process.  If I were a public official, with a sworn oath to work on behalf of the public interest, I’d be very hesitant to deliberate and decide on a publicly-impacting issue of this magnitude before all the studies and facts were made publicly available and with plenty of unhurried time to scrutinize and evaluate the information.
Perhaps the Indiana Finance Authority balked at reimbursing any subsequent expenditures on the $650,000 grant for the feasibility study if the CED prematurely pushed ahead with Commission formation.
Perhaps there were audit or legal questions about that aspect.
Or perhaps Mr. Sparks is just employing tactical or PR maneuvers of some sort.   Perhaps it’s just better public relations to pronounce and publicize that the report should be completed before he asks councils to form a commission.

Letter to The Herald Bulletin– Greenville’s riverfront example

Letter: Greenville, S.C., developed its river

Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 10:53 pm

The writer of the Sept. 28 “Reader Viewpoint” should have stopped in Greenville, S.C., on his way to his unnamed South Carolina town. For you see, instead of forcing its citizens from their homes and destroying a free flowing river, Greenville has developed their river, the Reedy River, into a centerpiece of their downtown. Go to their official website and you will see the river as well as a beautiful suspension bridge prominently featured. The development of the river in their downtown has helped bring life back to their city.

The writer of the Sept. 28 “Reader Viewpoint” tells us we must “re-imagine” ourselves.

 Unfortunately, tyrants throughout history have worked to “re-imagine” their communities. Each time those who “re-imagine” have done so on the sacrifices of others. To this writer I say the following. Our homes are not yours to sacrifice. The safety and purity of our water and environment are not yours to sacrifice. Our history and the sanctity of our archaeological sites are not yours to sacrifice. And are you really ready to sacrifice the safety of downtown Anderson by building an earthen dam there, given political climate of our world?

Consider with me, instead, a concept that protects and enhances all that makes us unique and offers sustainable economic opportunities. Check out the Mounds Greenway, a proposal by the Hoosier Environmental Council and the Heart of the River Coalition. Wake up Anderson, the thieves are in your house.

Doug Berky


Are we designing expensive water supply system for Peak desires?

The water-industrial complex is up to its old tricks again, or so it appears.  Or perhaps it’s only doing things the way it always has.  Either way, we need to ensure that future projections of water demand are sound and supportable.  There is much at stake.
Two engineers from an Indianapolis consulting firm recently (8-20-14) presented the results of a study of water supply and demand in Boone County to the Technical Advisory Group which advises Citizens Water. Heart of the River regularly attends and moniors those monthly meetings.
The engineering firm was retained by the Boone County interlocal Water Study Committee which is comprised of the Town of Advance, Boone County, Citizens Energy Group, Town of Jamestown, City of Lebanon, Town of Thorntown, Town of Whitestown, and the Town of Zionsville.
The project involved surveying the eight water utilities which supply water in the county about existing supply capacity and current and future projected demand.
The study determined in part that by 2035, there would be a projected 10 million gallon/day deficit in peak demand.  it also concluded that a 10 MGD water source could be provided by Citizens Water from its combined groundwater and surface water sources.
It was pointed out in the meeting that by using the Peak demand numbers, rather than the Average demand, the resulting cost of supplying that new potable water would be a great deal more expensive than that required to supply the “baseload” (i.e. the non-irrigation component).  In this region, the Peak irrigation demand is typically twice the quantity of the baseload. However, for the Zionsville service area, the current Peak water demand (9.00 MGD) is almost 3 times the Average demand (3.30 MGD).
it was also pointed out in the meeting that the projected demands from the eight utilities were taken by the consultants as givens without any effort to verify or coordinate the stated projected demand numbers or to ensure consistency of methodology or the underlying assumptions. The engineers noted in response that a review of the projections was not within the scope of their contract with the Boone County utilities group, and thus they made no attempt to review the projections. This was later facetiously characterized by one observer as:  “… we have as planning objectives the sum of apples, oranges, bananas and sausages.”
In addition to the need for holistic, comprehensive, and integrated planning recently urged by several agencies, including the IURC, we also need critical analyses– especially where projections of future water demand are involved.  As another observer has noted, water officials know they’ll will never be criticized for developing too much water supply, but they will be sharply criticized if supplies run short.