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Office of Conservation, Capital Area Ground Water Conservation Commission Set Structure to Coordinate Efforts

Agreement allows state and regional agencies to build on recent initial actions

Thursday, April 11, 2013


BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Office of Conservation and the Capital Area Ground Water Conservation Commission (CAGWCC) this week finalized an agreement to coordinate efforts related to the shared goal of maintaining the sustainability of the groundwater aquifer system that supplies East Baton Rouge Parish.


The Memorandum of Understanding approved last month by CAGWCC board members and now signed by Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welsh and CAGWCC Chairman Joey Hebert formalizes the working relationship between the state and regional agencies and helps clarify the roles of Conservation and CAGWCC, which have separate, but overlapping, authorities over management of the Southern Hills Aquifer system that supplies the Baton Rouge area. While the state Legislature granted CAGWCC wider immediate powers as the frontline management authority to take action in its jurisdiction more quickly, the Office of Conservation has a wider range of staff expertise to analyze data and make use of solid science to recommend actions appropriate to resolve management issues.


The agreement creates a framework that allows CAGWCC to draw directly on the Office of Conservation’s scientific, technical and management expertise in order to more quickly develop science-based plans for management of groundwater and issues related to salt water encroachment and act upon them effectively.


“This agreement has great potential to provide closer coordination of the efforts of the Office of Conservation and CAGWCC to manage groundwater in the Baton Rouge area and deal with salt water encroachment, creating a framework for use of Conservation’s scientific expertise to help CAGWCC most efficiently target its management authority and actions to maximize effectiveness in addressing salt water encroachment,” Welsh said.


In January, Welsh requested the group to address management of groundwater use in significant pumping centers nearest the Baton Rouge fault, and CAGWCC in March, followed-up by approving planning for a Baton Rouge Water Company “scavenger well” to intercept salt water encroaching on its Lula Street public supply wells from the south; capped water withdrawals from the 1,500-foot aquifer sand at current rates of production; and set a proposed reduction by 2 million gallons a day in industrial district withdrawals from the 2,000-foot aquifer sand – all by a target date of 2014.


“These initial measures are a good starting point to provide momentum for future action, and they do provide potential for substantive positive effects, but they are only part of a science-based effort that will continuously build upon previous steps taken to guide actions that will achieve results,” Welsh said. “The new agreement will help both the Office of Conservation and CAGWCC deliver those results through appropriate management and balancing of the needs of a growing area.”


Chairman Hebert said, “Formalizing our working relationship through this agreement is another positive step in our ongoing cooperative response to local groundwater challenges. This gives the CAGWCC new ease of access to tools that can make for more effective management strategies.”


The MOU can be viewed here.


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