Commissioner of Conservation Reminds South Caddo of Groundwater Emergency
Has concern about effects of current Drought
Baton Rouge – Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welsh is reminding residents, businesses and industrial operators in south Caddo Parish that the restrictions on groundwater use issued in August 2011’s Ground Water Emergency Order – including a 300-gallon-a-day limit for industry and oil-and-gas operations and the minimization of home use beyond purposes absolutely necessary – still remain in place around Keithville and in the South Shreveport-Ellerbe Road corridor.
Welsh said that under the Emergency Order, some positive recovery had been seen in local groundwater levels up through early 2013, improving upon the conditions observed in 2011 that triggered his agency’s initial action.
He noted, however, that decreased rainfall during recent months has led the U.S. Drought Monitor to classify most of western and northern Louisiana as an area of “Severe Drought.” Further, ongoing observations of groundwater monitoring wells in the affected areas have shown sharp declines in aquifer water levels beyond that normally expected through the late summer months.
“Such drought conditions encourage a greater demand for groundwater from local aquifers, causing water levels inside the formations to drop, and potentially leading us to a repeat of what happened two years ago, when some local wells began to run dry,” Welsh said. “While the conditions on the surface are not as extreme as they were in 2011, the aquifers in the areas covered by the Emergency Order have been under stress and we must continue to conserve water and manage the situation before it becomes a crisis.”
The order, specific to water use from the Carrizo-Wilcox and Upland Terrace aquifers within the Keithville and South Shreveport-Ellerbe Road “Areas of Interest,” includes restrictions such as:
· Elimination of groundwater usage from industrial wells for all reasons other than human consumption, limited to no more than 300 gallons a day.
· No watering of residential lawns and golf fairways; home gardens excepted.
· No washing of vehicles and equipment beyond that absolutely necessary to achieve proper operation and maintenance.
· No filling of ponds for non-practical or aesthetic use (for decoration or design); agricultural and irrigation purposes excepted.
· No filling of swimming pools beyond what is absolutely necessary for proper maintenance.
To remind the public of the restrictions and the need for the Emergency Order, the Office of Conservation has released a mail-out to residents and businesses in the two Areas of Interest. The mail-out provides basic information about the background of the Order, the specific boundaries of the “Areas of Interest,” the restrictions on groundwater use, and the science of aquifer recovery in south Caddo Parish.
In particular, the mail-out directs residents to the Office of Conservation’s South Caddo website at http://dnr.la.gov/southcaddo, which features maps, graphics, charts, and other explanatory material about the Ground Water Emergency, water use in Caddo Parish generally, and sound conservation practices. Local residents can also sign-up at the site for periodic e-mail updates provided by Conservation staff.
The effort also coincides with a new initiative led by the Office of Conservation to get additional water science education resources into regional classrooms to help provide wide awareness about local water resources and their management.
Welsh said reaching out through the education system has proven to be an effective way of engaging the public on the role it can play in managing water use.
The Office of Conservation’s Groundwater Resources Program will be using a similar model to that recently piloted in the Baton Rouge area in dealing with regional groundwater issues. High-volume, private-sector water users there provided resources as part of an Office of Conservation-led cooperative effort.
“Some private-sector users in northwest Louisiana have already signed on,” Welsh said, “but we are still looking for other partners with an interest in water resource sustainability in the region to join with us. Ultimately, we’d like to have a curriculum in place and a workshop where we can actually train teachers in the subject matter and lesson plans. We’ll be working on this through the fall.”
For further information about the Ground Water Emergency Order or the education initiative, contact: Matthew Reonas, Ph.D., Office of Conservation, (225) 342-1496 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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