Ground Water Emergency Order Update

Date: June 1, 2016
Notice from DNR Office of Conservation, Commissioner Richard P. Ieyoub

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 seasonal levels near their upper range after cooler temperatures in the late winter and spring and after particularly heavy rainfall in March and April. It is expected, though, that with warm, potentially dry summer months ahead, these levels will decline to their lower range, usually experienced in August, September, and October.

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 show that current groundwater levels inside local aquifers conform to expected seasonal fluctuations as noted in previous updates. With the onset of summer, however, local residents should reasonably expect these levels to decline and therefore ought to begin appropriate planning for the judicious use of groundwater in their daily routines, including the implementation of standard conservation practices.

While the Shreveport area experienced a heavy measured rainfall, as reported by the Louisiana Office of State Climatology, over the two-month span of March and April (approximately 17.53 inches above the historic average, or more than 8.5 inches above average each month), this rainfall likely will have only a temporary impact on local groundwater recharge. 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 late fall, winter, and spring, when temperatures are cooler, usage is reduced, and rainfall abundant.

However, it is likewise to be expected that these same wells will show sharp declines in summer and early fall, with hot weather and increased domestic groundwater withdrawals during extended daylight hours for outdoor activities. Shallow wells generally tend to be more immediately responsive to both periods of higher demand and/or recharge from the surface in the form of heavy rains. Deeper wells usually demonstrate fewer dramatic ups-and-downs in water levels as they tend to take longer to recharge and longer to impact during times of higher demand.

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. Well owners should take appropriate measures to conserve their usage within the limits of the expected recharge based on local conditions, of which well depth can be an important factor.

Since declaration of an emergency for these Areas of Interest 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.