Ground Water Emergency Order Update

Date: October 7, 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 (under a Temporary Ground Water Emergency Order since Aug. 19, 2011) are showing expected declines after high summer temperatures and a lack of rain over the months of July, August, and September. The U. S. Drought Monitor update for September 29, 2015, classifies several parishes in northwest Louisiana, including Caddo, as experiencing extreme drought, with only 2.78 inches of recorded rain for the Shreveport area over the three-month span, as reported by the Louisiana Office of State Climatology. This figure is more than seven inches below the average, historical rainfall for the stated timeframe. After an unusually wet winter and early spring, the region is witnessing an unusually dry late summer and early fall. Still, the most recent data evaluated by the Office of Conservation as part of its mandate to manage groundwater resource sustainability in the Areas of Interests shows that the changes in groundwater levels conform to expected seasonal fluctuations as noted in previous updates. Local residents should continue to exercise the judicious use of groundwater in their daily routines, including the implementation of standard conservation practices.

The many shallow groundwater wells (less than 150 feet) within the Areas of Interest are particularly apt to show large groundwater level increases in the wet months of winter and spring, when temperatures are cooler and use is down, and sharp declines in summer and fall, with hot weather and increased withdrawals. Deeper wells demonstrate fewer ups-and-downs as they tend to take longer to recharge and longer to impact by overuse. These fluctuations are normal for aquifer systems such as the Carrizo-Wilcox and Upland Terrace in south Caddo Parish, where the volumetric groundwater use is dominated by public supply and domestic purposes.

Since declaration of an emergency for these Areas due to exceptional drought conditions resulting in higher than normal withdrawal of groundwater without sufficient offsetting aquifer recharge, the Office of Conservation 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).

Emergency Order Amended

Following a previous evaluation, the Office of Conservation amended the restrictions of the emergency order in effect for the south Caddo Parish Areas of Interest on June 30, 2014, to allow for the resumption of normal groundwater use within certain parameters. The amended order can be viewed here and an accompanying news release here.

Keep in mind that 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.