Why does Geist need a Conservancy District?

The Geist Reservoir area is one of the very few residential lake communities in Central Indiana. It is home to water enthusiasts who enjoy fishing, boating, water sports, and nature’s beauty. It has made Indianapolis’ Northeast side one of the most sought after real estate markets- for businesses and homeowners alike. The reservoir is one of the main reasons for this region’s bustling economy, incredible population growth, and highly rated school system. One could argue that Geist Reservoir is one of Indiana’s most unique and important assets.

However, neglect of proper maintenance over past decades is now showing its ugly head. I would like to address a few of the resulting issues below. 

Geist is facing an influx of sedimentation and agricultural runoff from Fall Creek, Thorpe Creek, and many other creek beds depositing sediment into the reservoir. If left unchecked, it will leave large parts of the Reservoir unusable due to shallow depths.

Decreasing depth also increases concern for the safety of swimmers, as it exposes many underwater hazards to recreational users, potentially damaging jet skis and watercraft. Deposited phosphates get stirred up easily in shallow waters by boats which can potentially lead to toxic algae blooms. This not only creates a hazard when boating but now threatens the health of the reservoir’s ecology and recreational users safety. 

The reservoir’s ecosystem has been disturbed by non-native species such as zebra mussels and milfoil. These invasive species were brought in on un-cleaned boat bilges from other bodies of water. 

Marking hazards, channels, and no wake zones are currently nobody’s responsibility. Please refer to our previous blog post Prop Drop Island.

As owners of Geist Reservoir, Citizens Energy Group have stated they intend to treat the water strictly for consumption as it leaves the dam. They will not charge their rate payers across central Indiana for dredging Geist Reservoir for recreational purposes. 

So, why #SaveGeist now? We don’t have to look far to find an example of what happens when a reservoir in a growing residential area continues to be neglected. Grand Lake is located in Mercer County, Ohio.  Grand Lake was facing the same challenges as Geist as it also promoted growing residential communities, parks, and recreation. Runoff from farms and agriculture introduced large amounts of silt and phosphates into the lake causing toxic algae bloom. The resulting loss of fish, their natural habitat, and shallow depth, made Grand Lake unusable. In 2010, Ohio State University reported: The Algal bloom cost Ohio homeowners $152 million over six years. 

How can we as neighbors of Geist Reservoir ensure that our beloved gem does not end up like Grand Lake in Ohio? What existing laws can we use to face the challenges and protect the asset that affects our real estate investment, schools and businesses? 

The Geist Conservancy District is looking to come together in order to prevent exactly this grim outlook. 

How will the Geist Conservancy work?  We have divided Geist into nine districts encompassing three Counties. The districts include only communities directly bordering the lake. District representatives will be elected by residents. These representatives will be responsible for using taxpayer funds to help #SaveGeist. 

District meetings will be public and include open books to insure financial responsibility. The Conservancy District Board will be required to submit an annual report with the State Examiner and comply with existing Indiana Code. 

The conservancy will also collect additional funds from watercraft owners and transient boaters to ensure all users are contributing towards the long term health of Geist.

Please support the Geist Conservancy District formation by signing up for updates when we have a new blog post and sign the petition if you have not already. Help us #SaveGeist.

Thank You,

Ryan Kiely

Geist Conservancy Steering Committee