Ground Water Emergency Order Update

Date: November 7, 2014
Notice from DNR Office of Conservation, Commissioner James Welsh

Groundwater levels in the Keithville and South Shreveport-Ellerbe Rd. Areas of Interest in south Caddo Parish continue to show signs of improvement after the declaration of a temporary ground water emergency on Aug. 19, 2011, due to exceptional drought conditions resulting in higher than normal withdrawal of ground water without sufficient offsetting aquifer recharge.

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 the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The Office of Conservation will continue to rigorously evaluate this data as part of its mandate to manage groundwater resource sustainability in these areas.

The most recent data continues to show a general trend towards improvement following relatively average rainfall over the past several months. The usual pattern of falling water levels during the hot, dry months of late summer when water use is greater seems to be transitioning into the expected rise in water levels during the cooler months of fall when overall water use declines.

A cyclical water level rise and fall, or seasonal variation, is normal for aquifer systems such as the Carrizo-Wilcox and Upland Terrace where the volumetric groundwater use is dominated by public supply and domestic purposes. Considering aquifer characteristics and predominate use, water consumption generally trends upward during months with greater hours of daylight and warmer temperatures compared with months with fewer daylight hours and cooler temperatures.

The steep “ups-and-downs” in these groundwater levels are especially noticeable in the graphics provided below.

The greatest uncertainty for the area is the amount of rainfall, or lack thereof, hence the possibility of the return of drought conditions in the region.

The Louisiana Office of State Climatology rainfall data for the area south of Shreveport indicates monthly rainfall totals that are mostly average through October, although several of the past months have fallen below respective averages, while rainfall in September and October has been somewhat above average. 

The U. S. Drought Monitor Report for Louisiana dated November 4, 2014 reported conditions in south Caddo Parish to be in the "Abnormally Dry" to "Moderate Drought" range, although groundwater levels do not appear to be currently adversely impacted by the inconsistencies in precipitation. 

The Office of Conservation recognized significant improvement in local groundwater levels earlier in the year with the issuance on June 30, 2014, of an amendment to the original Emergency Order that suspended restrictions on certain groundwater use in the south Caddo Areas of Interest. Link here to the First Amendment to Emergency Order No. ENV-2011-GW014 for complete details. Although some groundwater usage restrictions have been relaxed, the Emergency Order does remain in effect, and enforceable, including two important provisions:

  • All persons in the Areas of Interest shall continue to implement judicious use of ground water withdrawn from Carrizo-Wilcox and Upland Terrace aquifer system water wells by practicing sound water conservation measures. 
  • Further, no person shall install a new water well in the Keithville or Ellerbe Road Areas of Interest to produce water from the Carrizo-Wilcox or Upland Terrace aquifers for any purpose without advance written approval of the agency except for replacement wells as defined in Order No. ENV 2011-GW014.

Violations of the above restrictions are enforceable by law and may include the imposition of civil penalties.

The agency issued a news release detailing the agency’s decision to issue the Emergency Order Amendment for implementing the actions summarized above.