Geist Reservoir Conservancy District Hires New Director

Writer / Matt Keating
Photography Provided

Joni Forestal, the program director for Geist Reservoir Conservancy District (GRCD) as of August 1, is excited about her new job and improving the reservoir.Geist Reservoir Conservancy District

“I wholeheartedly believe that we are here to use our lives to make the world a better place,” Forestal says. “By joining the Geist Reservoir Conservancy District team, I am now a part of this positive environment where everyone is working toward the same goal: the restoration, preservation and protection of the reservoir.”

Forestal notes that the GRCD team has a lot of positive plans for the future.

“The GRCD is pulling together and harnessing our own personal areas of expertise so we can achieve great things for the reservoir for many years to come,” Forestal says. “My new role as program director is highly rewarding, as I take great pride in knowing my efforts will contribute to the preservation of Geist Reservoir.”

Forestal says she grew up having a lake house on Heritage Lake in Coatesville, Indiana.

“Boating, fishing and swimming have always been a huge part of my life,” Forestal says. “Being able to make these same memories with my own family on Geist is a gift.”

Before she joined GRCD, Forestal worked as a teacher and realtor.

“I taught within the archdiocese of Indianapolis at St. Joan of Arc, St. Luke, and St. Simon the Apostle for the last 18 years,” she says. “I have also been a realtor for the last 17 years, and currently am a licensed realtor/broker with the F.C. Tucker Fishers/Geist office. My time-management, problem-solving, and organizational skills gained from teaching will no doubt help me as I navigate through my day-to-day responsibilities such as scheduling lake treatments, accounting, and co-sponsoring the Geist fireworks. My knowledge of property values, and the personal relationships I have formed in the Geist area while serving as a local realtor, will also be quite beneficial within my new role.”

Forestal and the GRCD staff have a clear initiative in mind.

“Our initiative is very focused on getting a GRCD petition filed,” Forestal says. “We are collecting the final signatures needed and hope to still get the petition submitted in 2023. Along with that, we continue to manage the annual treatment program to control algae, and raise funds and co-sponsor the July 4 fireworks.”

Forestal says community members are wondering how Citizens Energy Group helps Geist residents during periods of drought. Citizens Energy Group has recently moved 140 million gallons of water into Geist Reservoir in response to the recent drought. Citizens Energy Group built the Citizens Reservoir to store and capture excess water from Geist Reservoir.

“Citizens Energy Group has the ability to pump water from Citizens Reservoir into Geist Reservoir during periods of drought,” Forestal says. “Citizens Reservoir creates a more resilient water supply for Citizens Energy Group’s customers by ensuring sufficient water supplies during periods of drought. This also has a secondary benefit of helping to maintain water levels in Geist Reservoir.”

Forestal adds that people with boats have to adjust their lifts to be prepared for additional steps as the drought continues.

“When water levels drop, there is not a lot that some homeowners can do as their lifts are not in very deep water to start, and when the water level goes down, their lift may hit bottom before the boat can float off,” she says. “In this case, homeowners may consider winterizing and storing their boat on the lift over winter, and/or waiting for water levels to recover.”

Geist Reservoir Conservancy DistrictWhen Forestal isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her family.

“My husband, Erik, and I have five children, Harrison, Hadley, Hilary, Hudson and Hayes,” she says. “We boat, swim and ski on Geist as often as we can. When we are not out on the water, we attend our children’s many sporting events.”

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