Baton Rouge – In its board meeting yesterday, Louisiana Water Resources Commission Chairman Scott Angelle pressed for continued improvement in water management while applauding the major strides made to date in compliance, education and monitoring since an initiative to re-structure water management approaches in the state began in 2008.
“This is a long process we started back in 2008,” Angelle said. “Then, in some ways, we were building from scratch, putting up a framework, roughing in the outlines of a program. Now, we have a roof and walls, something substantive, and the work must continue.”
As an example, he noted the strides made by the Office of Conservation in the area of ensuring new water wells for home, farm, and industrial use are being properly registered and tracked.
“We had a system in the past where the burden for compliance was on the tens of thousands of individual well owners, who may or may not have known the regulations and requirements,” Angelle said. “Now, through the work of Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welsh and staff, that responsibility rests with the state’s 250 licensed water well drillers. That’s innovative thinking right there. After continued outreach and education with the well drillers, the agency is achieving close to 90 percent in overall compliance, whereas in some segments at the beginning, those numbers were only in the 40 percent range.”
Angelle highlighted the work in water conservation education in the state as well, noting that the Sparta Ground Water Conservation Commission has reached more than 6,000 fifth-graders in its core, four-parish area of north Louisiana through its Water Fest program in the past five years.
“The first participants in those programs are going into 10th grade this year, but they’ve already received an early introduction to real-life environmental science in their own backyard. And it’s not just those students who get the message, but the households they carry it back to – their parents and grandparents, and aunts and uncles and cousins,” Angelle said. “I know these are the types of programs that can make a difference in every parish in the state if we can find the dedicated funds and people to support them, and with sample budgets from the Commission, we can begin investigating available opportunities.”
Angelle also made particular note of the expanded statewide groundwater monitoring network the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is implementing in partnership with the state Department of Natural Resources – including the addition of nearly 200 water-level monitoring wells and approximately 150 wells for monitoring water quality.
“Our statewide groundwater monitoring network had degraded significantly since the 1980s. The new water level wells alone have increased our coverage of the state’s aquifers by 70 percent,” Angelle said. “These wells are very literally our eyes in the ground. Without this network, we are blind to any developments that may require management action. I have made a commitment to do everything in my power to raise awareness of the importance of this network and find the funds to continue this work into the future.”
During the meeting, Chairman Angelle honored Captain Michael Rooney, a Commission member representing the Louisiana River Pilots’ Association, who passed away suddenly last December.
He welcomed new members Guy Cormier, President of the St. Martin Parish Government and representing the Police Jury Association of Louisiana; David Culpepper, a geologist with extensive experience in groundwater management appointed by Governor Bobby Jindal; and Benjamin Malbrough, Executive Director of the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District, appointed by Representative Gordon Dove, chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee.
Angelle also extended gratitude to Ted McKinney for his long service with the Commission on behalf of the Sparta Ground Water Conservation District. McKinney is retiring at the end of this term.
The presentations provided during Wednesday’s Water Resources Commission meeting will be available online August 1,
A full transcript of the meeting will be available online at the same web address at a later date.
For more information, contact, DNR Office of Conservation, 225-342-1496.News Archives »