Office of Conservation Applauds Capital Area Ground Water Conservation Commission Proposal
Committee recommends groundwater management plan targeting key areas for consideration at next week’s Commission meeting
BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welsh said today that the management plan addressing water use in the vital 1,500-foot and 2,000-foot aquifer sands in Baton Rouge to be considered next week by the Capital Area Ground Water Conservation Commission (CAGWCC) is exactly the kind of discussion and action he hoped to encourage in his January letter to the CAGWCC.
The CAGWCC’s Technical Committee on Wednesday voted to forward a management plan to the full Commission that includes provisions for a Baton Rouge Water Company “scavenger well” to intercept salt water encroaching on its Lula Street public supply wells from the south, capping current water withdrawal from the 1,500-foot sands at current rates of production, lowering the existing cap on East Baton Rouge Parish total withdrawal from the 2,000-foot aquifer sands by 1.5 million gallons a day and reducing industrial district withdrawal from the 2,000-foot aquifer sands from 17.5 million gallons a day to 15.5 million gallons a day – all by 2014.
The proposed management plan also calls for any new wells in both the 1,500-foot sands, particularly the Lula Street pumping center, and the 2,000-foot sands of the industrial district to be located further north than current pumping centers.
The Office of Conservation, having jurisdiction over groundwater management for the entire state, has been asked by local interests in the Baton Rouge area to intervene and assist the CAGWCC, which was created by the state Legislature to manage groundwater use in East Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes, in dealing with concerns of the encroachment of salt water northward across the Baton Rouge fault into aquifer sands used for public supply.
As part of the ongoing effort to more directly mesh the efforts and overlapping jurisdictions of the Office of Conservation’s Groundwater Resources Program and the CAGWCC, Welsh had sent a letter to the CAGWCC in January asking that the group discuss in its March meeting the sustainability of the current rate and manner of groundwater use in two key areas Conservation has identified -- around Baton Rouge Water Co.’s Lula Street pumping center and around the industrial district pumping center further to the north – and discuss possible corrective actions.
Welsh said that a modeling study concerning the salt water encroachment issue being done by the U.S. Geological Survey and expected to be completed in the next few months will help provide data to develop long-term management plans, but enough data already exists to make initial plans for more immediate action.
“From the perspective of Conservation, the idea is to use what we already know about water withdrawal and the movement of salt water toward public supply pumping centers in Baton Rouge to take immediate actions that will have long-term positive impacts and that can be incorporated into the longer-range management effort and actions,” Welsh said. “I had asked that the CAGWCC begin to discuss this with Conservation, and the members of the CAGWCC technical committee have responded by jumping on board with a very solid proposal for some positive immediate action.”
CAGWCC Chairman Joey Hebert, who presented the proposed management plan, said that he believes it has potential to provide both real results in slowing salt water encroachment and new information that can be useful in ongoing development of management strategies.
“This gives us a starting point and gives us some tangible action,” Hebert said. “This can be the first in a series of actions over the next several years.”
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