Ground Water Emergency Order Update

Date: Friday, May 11, 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 have 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 2012. After having sustained an continuous upward trend for over 85 consecutive days above their respective water levels reported on June 28, 2011, ground water level data received on May 1, 2012 collected from the LSU Shreveport monitoring wells located in the Areas of Interest indicate that the water levels have generally stabilized holding near previously reported levels or showing only slightly lower 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 April 2012 reports similar conditions as seen with the LSU Shreveport monitor wells, i.e., water levels in the area generally appear to be stabilizing. Results of USGS observation well water levels can be viewed here and below.

U. S. Drought Monitor Reports for Louisiana dated from March 27, 2012 to May 8, 2012 reported improved conditions in the areas having been upgraded from "moderate" drought to "abnormally dry" or no drought conditions on March 27, 2012 to presently no drought for the entire region. The May 8, 2012 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 continued to show marked improvement from summer and fall 2011 rainfall totals during January and February 2012 falling only slightly below respective historical monthly averages respectively reported to be 32% and 13% below their monthly averages. March 2012 rainfall far exceeded the monthly average with a reported increase of 90% with April 2012 rainfall falling only 23% below the monthly average.

Since November 2011 to present, measured rainfall in the area is trending nearly consistent with the same monthly average trend. Additionally, the rainfall trend reported during the past 6 months is averaging notably higher than the respective historical monthly average trend as depicted in the rainfall trend graph at the link provided below.

In summary, since November 2011 to present, aquifer water levels and measurable rainfall data have shown marked improvement in the Shreveport area. Aquifer water levels measured in late April 2012 in the area show either a slight decline or very little change from levels derived from the previous month. The Region is no longer considered to be in a drought. The Office of Conservation 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. At this time and until otherwise notified, all restrictions and conditions of the Emergency Order shall remain in full effect. The agency will continue to provide periodic updates.