Tonia Pippin, Resource & Project Development Director, SESCO Group
The Mounds Lake project (Project) was first envisioned about four years ago in a Madison County Leadership Academy class as a development project for Madison County. Because central Indiana is experiencing population growth and reportedly faces severe water shortages in the next 15-35 years, the Corporation for Economic Development (CED) for Anderson/Madison County has been working on examining the feasibility of building a dam on the West Fork of the White River in Anderson and creating the Mounds Lake. The lake is one of several options that are being examined to address the water shortages. The ideas examined include: conservation, aggressive pricing of water, use of wastewater and gray water, and new pipe line constructions from the Wabash and Ohio rivers. The Project is proposed to be approximately seven miles long and ¾ of a mile wide at the largest point, and spanning from the Mounds Mall in Anderson into western Delaware County and would be used to supply water to down-stream communities, such as Noblesville, Fishers, Carmel and Indianapolis.
Seeing the possibilities of a project of this magnitude, the CED for Anderson/Madison County contracted a DLZ Engineering of Indianapolis (DLZ) to perform a study to determine the feasibility of this type and size of project. As part of Phase I of the Project, DLZ conducted an initial study in 2010 revealing that the construction of the proposed 2,100 acre lake is possible. With this information, the CED moved forward with Phase II of the Project. As part of Phase II, SESCO Group, Inc. (SESCO) was contracted to identify sites that could present an environmental concern to the Project and to provide worst-case-scenario remediation cost estimates for those sites. In addition, SESCO was also asked to collect and analyze groundwater samples from the remaining monitoring well network associated with the up-gradient and former General Motors (GM) property, as well as review water quality data for the White River (west fork). Finally, SESCO was also asked to take part in community outreach activities, such as present the findings and answer questions at the publicly held forums and talk with the private property owners of the identified sites of concern.
To identify the sites of concern, SESCO used a range of methods including historic environmental and public records reviews, interviews with local citizens and visual surveys. To develop remediation cost estimates for those sites, SESCO estimated the type and areas of likely contaminants based on the historical records review information, employed a risk based approach to determine likely receptors, and considered a range of contaminant level scenarios. Several sites, totaling 120 acres of the proposed 2,100 acre Project footprint, were identified that potentially pose environmental concerns, including a number of historic environmental concerns that have not been fully addressed at certain sites. There are currently no active remediation projects being conducted within the Project area or at any of the identified sites. Remediation activities to be conducted at an up-gradient former General Motors (GM) property is planned.
Sampling data from an existing ground water monitoring well network, which was originally installed by GM, indicates the presence of low levels of contaminants near the western end of the proposed Project footprint. However, a review of data from the former GM wells indicates an overall downward trend in observed contaminant levels since 1996, to the point of non-detection at many well locations.
Based on the limited data available at this time and assuming the presence of significant quantities of contaminated materials, SESCO estimates the cost to remediate the identified sites at $35 million dollars. The cost could be higher or lower depending on what is actually discovered during the investigations at the individual sites. For most of the identified sites, data gaps exist and additional investigations will be necessary to understand actual subsurface conditions and properly plan for any necessary remediation.
The additional investigations would be performed in a subsequent phase of the Project, of which the likelihood of occurring has not been confirmed. CED has reported approximately 72% of the 1,230 public forum survey responders support the project, while 13% do not. For more information, go to www.moundslake.com.