Ground Water Emergency Order Update

Date: February 13, 2015
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 and overall sustainable conditions. The usual expected pattern of rising water levels during the cooler, wetter months of late fall and early winter, when overall water use is on the decline, is apparent in recent measurements. 

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 a rainfall total that is above average for the period spanning November, 2014, through January, 2015. 

The U. S. Drought Monitor Report for Louisiana dated February 10, 2015 reported conditions in Caddo Parish to be in the "normal" range. Groundwater level measurements appear to reflect both the expected seasonal variation as well as the current rainfall average, which does have some more immediate impact on shallower wells in the area. 

The Office of Conservation recognized significant improvement in local groundwater levels in the early summer 2014 with the issuance on June 30 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.