Ground Water Emergency Order Update

Date: November 27, 2012
Notice from DNR Office of Conservation, Commissioner James Welsh

On August 19, 2011, the Office of Conservation declared a temporary ground water emergency for two areas of South Caddo Parish due to exceptional drought conditions resulting in higher than normal withdrawal of ground water without sufficient offsetting aquifer recharge. These conditions resulted in ground water levels in the Carrizo-Wilcox and Upland Terrace aquifers to drop to levels causing several shallower water wells in the two areas to go dry at the end of July 2011.

To prevent further water level decline and reduce stress on the aquifers in these two areas, Conservation ordered water conservation measures and ground water use restrictions. Details are provided in the August 2011 Memorandum and Emergency Order No. ENV-2011-GW014.

Since issuance of the Emergency Order, Conservation staff has continued to monitor hydrologic data in the region provided to our agency courtesy of the LSU Shreveport Red River Watershed Management Institute and from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) starting in September 2011. Water level data collected from the LSU Shreveport monitoring wells located in the Areas of Interest indicate that water levels have shown recovery in all wells since June.

Water level data was collected in the middle of October because a high rain event occurred after the final reading in September was taken. This was done in order to observe what kind of change in water levels a high rain event can cause in local water levels. Results of water level monitoring data are provided below.

Water level data from additional observation wells measured and reported by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) from November 2011 through September 2012 generally reports near similar conditions as seen with the LSU Shreveport monitor wells, i.e., water levels have gradually receded from their respective high water level marks recorded in April 2012. Results of USGS observation well water levels can be viewed here and below.

U. S. Drought Monitor Reports for Louisiana dated October 30, 2012 reported conditions in the areas to be "normal". The current U.S. Drought Monitor Report for Louisiana may be viewed here.

The Louisiana Office of State Climatology rainfall data for the area south of Shreveport indicates monthly rainfall totals for June through October 2011 to be well below respective average monthly rainfall with the month of October 2011 reported to be 65% below the monthly average. The rainfall total for the month of November is reported to be within 9% of the monthly average and continued improvement is noted for December with a 73% increase of rainfall above the normal average. Rainfall in the area has generally improved from summer and fall 2011 rainfall totals to date. October 2012 measured rainfall was approximately 7% below the average rainfall for the area.

Since November 2011 to present, measured rainfall in the area is trending nearly consistent with the same monthly average trend shown on the graph at the link provided below.

In summary, although since November 2011 to present, aquifer water levels and measurable rainfall data have generally improved in the Shreveport area, ground water level data received during August 2012 indicate that water levels have generally held steady but have gradually receded from their respective high water level marks recorded in April 2012 for the time period from June 2011 to present. Water levels have resumed their increase in September and October. With regional surface conditions recently reported to be "normal" and nearby areas in north Caddo Parish reported as “abnormally dry” or "moderate drought", the Office of Conservation has determined that all restrictions and conditions of the Emergency Order shall remain in full effect and shall remain as such until otherwise notified. The agency will continue to closely and carefully monitor hydrologic conditions in the Areas of Interest to determine if and when surface and groundwater data support amending restrictions and conditions set forth in the Emergency Order and will continue to provide periodic updates.