Citizens Reservoir Will Provide More than Three Billion Gallons of Water Storage

Photographer / Brian Brosmer

Citizens ReservoirThe Geist area will soon be home to a second reservoir, as work on Citizens Reservoir, next to Citizens Energy Group’s Geist Reservoir along Olio Road, nears completion.

“The project has gone according to plan, and we’re thrilled with that,” says Jeff Harrison, president and CEO of Citizens Energy Group, the company behind the new reservoir. “We wrapped up things here in 2020. We opened the gates on December 2 and expect to fill Citizens Reservoir in early spring of 2021.”

Citizens Reservoir will provide more than three billion gallons of additional water storage capacity to Citizens Energy Group by converting a retired deep limestone quarry to a dedicated water storage facility. At 230’ deep, the 90-acre reservoir’s depth is nearly equivalent to the height of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Indianapolis, allowing it to hold approximately half the volume of the 1,800-acre Geist Reservoir. Unlike Geist Reservoir, the new reservoir is designed strictly for water storage purposes, with no public access for development or recreation.

According to Harrison, the project aligns with the company’s ongoing planning for long-term water supply.

“There are those of us in the organization that had some longer-term planning experience, so we really started thinking about longer-term water supply planning,” Harrison says. “That really increased our desire and search spectrum for opportunities for new sources of water.”

Citizens ReservoirUpon discovering the limestone quarry off of Olio Road, Citizens Energy Group leaders quickly got to work on converting the land into a reservoir.

“We came across the quarry and started looking at it in 2014, and determined that it would potentially be a really nice reservoir for Citizens,” Harrison says. “In 2015 we purchased the quarry that is now the Citizens Reservoir. Then site preparations began in 2018, and we’re now in the final stages of completing construction.”

Harrison says Citizens Energy Group is now able to store more water at a lower cost.

“When we look at our long-term water supply planning, we are really focused on trying to acquire the next gallon of water supply for the lowest cost,” Harrison says. “To put it in perspective, the total cost of the Citizens Reservoir is about $30 million, versus $600 million to construct a traditional reservoir.”

While it cannot be accessed for development or recreation purposes, Citizens Reservoir will still interact with the neighboring Geist Reservoir.

“We will actually have Geist Reservoir to fill Citizens Reservoir,” Harrison says. “There’s a gate between the two reservoirs currently. That gate will open on occasion and fill the Citizens Reservoir.”

The gate was officially opened December 2. It will take a few months before Citizens Reservoir is completely filled.

The water supply in Citizens Reservoir will then be utilized during times of drought in Central Indiana. For example, Harrison references the drought of 2012 as a time when extra water supply was needed in the area.

“We receive around 42” of rain every year in this area, but we don’t always get the rain when we need it,” Harrison says. “This storage capacity allows us to store that water and pull it out exactly when we do need it. That’s the beauty of these reservoirs.”

Harrison compares the function of a reservoir to that of a battery, adding that the new reservoir will simply add to Citizen Energy Group’s overall water storage supply.

Citizens Reservoir“When we’re ready to use the water in Citizens Reservoir, we have a pump station that’s been constructed there on-site,” Harrison says. “We’ll then pump that water up and deposit it back into Geist Reservoir, where it’ll be able to flow down and over the dam into Fall Creek. Citizens will then be able to draw that water from our Fall Creek treatment plant or our White River treatment plant, which are both located downstream of Geist Reservoir.”

Since construction preparation kicked off in the spring of 2019, Harrison says the reservoir’s construction schedule has unfolded smoothly.

“Now we’re really just going through some punch-list items and prepping the reservoir,” he says. “We believe we’ve had very little interruption in terms of neighbors and traffic flow as well.”

As for the Geist community, Harrison says it’s been a joy spending time in the area and getting to know Citizens Reservoir’s future neighbors.

“It’s a very beautiful area,” Harrison says. “I think the quarry and pump station also fit in very well. We won’t even be noticed by the community, which I think is what they want. The neighbors have been very gracious to us. They’ve been nice partners to work with, and that’s the way we like to work at Citizens.”

To learn more about the project and its progress, visit here.

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