Why the Morse Lake Dam Valve is Open or Closed

Morse Lake Information & News

Recent news from Citizens Water regarding Morse & Geist water levels and how the dam valve status is determined:


Recently, the City of Indianapolis transferred its water and wastewater assets to Citizens Energy Group. Included in this historic transfer is the ownership of Geist and Morse Reservoirs.  The primary purpose of these reservoirs is to store water to ensure an adequate water supply to the surface water treatment plants in Indianapolis. Recreation is a secondary benefit.

Discharges from Morse Reservoir were initiated on August 18, 2011 – a full week before Citizens took ownership of the water utility. The daily operations of the water utility are under much of the same direction as they were prior to the transfer. This is to ensure the operations of the utility go relatively unchanged and so customers see the smoothest possible transition. 

The Indianapolis Water Company completed the Morse Reservoir in 1956 by damming Big Cicero and Little Cicero Creeks. Its primary purpose is to provide a consistent water supply to the White River and White River North Treatment Plants. The White River Treatment Plant is Citizens largest surface water treatment plant and it serves a large portion of the Citizens Water service area. Both Morse and Geist Reservoirs were designed to store water during times of low water supply. Citizens’ objective is to stay within the drawdown design of these two reservoirs.

During times of low precipitation, Citizens Water must initiate discharges from Morse Reservoir due to declining stream flows. Little to no precipitation in the watershed over a long period of time requires an increased rate of discharge from the reservoir. The reservoirs are not only utilized to supplement flow to the waterways, but they are also used to flush the river if quality issues arise. The lack of rainfall requires the utility to open valves on both Geist and Morse Reservoirs to ensure a proper supply to the surface water treatment plants.

In general, releases aremore frequent from Geist Reservoir than Morse, because the majority of water flow in Fall Creek depends on the discharge from the reservoir.  Releases from Morse Reservoir are less frequent and occur when the water flow in White River is unable to meet water supply demands.

Morse Lake Dam

At Morse Reservoir, the release rate is determined by the water flow in White River. Reservoir releases are into Cicero Creek, which flows into White River just south of Noblesville. Water flow is monitored daily in White River at several gauging stations, namely at Noblesville and Nora, as well as the water level at the White River North treatment plant intake and at Broad Ripple Dam (the diversion into the central canal).  When low water flow is identified, releases from Morse are made to increase the available supply in White River for both treatment plants, as well as maintaining flow over the Broad Ripple dam to sustain water flow in White River after water supply withdrawals.

 Click here to check the current Morse Lake Water Level – water levels updated daily! 


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