Ground Water Emergency Order Update

Date: November 22, 2016

Notice from DNR Office of Conservation, Commissioner Richard P. Ieyoub

Advisory Summary

After an exceedingly dry early fall through the months of September, October, and November, 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 declines. It should be noted, however, that these water level declines are well within the seasonal range for local groundwater systems and are not particularly alarming on their own account. The agency's concern is that these water levels may continue to decline or simply fail to rebound in the upcoming winter months due to the absence of a strong recharge at a time of cooler temperatures and lessened demand. This situation could pose a problem going into next spring and summer when water levels may not have recovered enough to withstand the concentrated withdrawals typical of that season. Consequently, local residents should begin appropriate planning for the judicious use of groundwater in their daily routines, including the implementation of standard conservation practices. The Office of Conservation, along with its partners at the LSU-Shreveport Red River Watershed Management Institute and the U.S. Geological Survey, will continue to monitor the situation closely and distribute updates and advisories as needed.

Rainfall Observations

After a very wet spring that saw widespread flooding in northwest Louisiana and an average amount of rainfall in the summer, the Louisiana Office of State Climatology recorded only 1.14 inches of rain at Shreveport over the months of September and October, with very little observed to-date for November as well.

While the long-term impacts of such temporary deficiencies on local groundwater recharge are minimal at the present time, if a sustained drought maintains through the winter and spring, there is the possibility of a less robust rebound in groundwater levels that could spell serious problems for the summer when it is expected-based on historic use patterns-that groundwater demand will be greater. Heavy use at that time (in the summer months, especially if the drought continues) could lead to critical declines in water levels inside local groundwater systems.

Responsiveness of Shallow and Deep Wells to Withdrawals and Rainfall

The many shallow groundwater wells (less than 150 feet) within the Areas of Interest 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.

Monitoring Activities

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 U.S. Geological Survey.

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.

Basic Water Conservation

Tips for the Home

  • Look for leaks in shower, sinks, and especially toilets. Toilet leaks can be detected by adding a few drops of food coloring to water in the tank. If the colored water appears in the bowl, the toilet is leaking. Install new flappers or washers to replace old, worn ones, and change faucet heads to include aerators and other low-flow technologies.
  • Take reasonable length showers instead of baths. Baths use 2 to 3 times as much water as showers. Install a low-flow showerhead for additional savings.
  • Turn off running water while shaving or brushing your teeth. 
  • Use washing machines and dishwashers only when they are fully loaded. Skip any non-essential rinse cycles, and use the proper water level or load size selection on the washing machine. If purchasing new machines, look for water efficiency as an important feature, including most Energy Star rated models, which can cut water use substantially.
  • Limit pre-washing or scrubbing of dishes, or let dishes soak in a full sink rather than using a continuous flow of water. Compost any scraps instead of washing/grinding them in a sink disposal.
  • If a dishwasher is not available, use a dishpan or plug the sink for washing and rinsing dishes. Once a day only!
  • Refrigerate tap water to avoid running the faucet for a long period to get cold water.

Tips for Outside

  • Utilize native plants and shrubs rather than exotics, which tend to not be drought resistant and therefore demand more water.
  • Water your garden during the coolest part of the day. Use soaker/irrigation hoses rather than sprinklers to avoid un-necessary loss of water through evaporation. 
  • Use mulch around shrubs and garden plants to reduce evaporation from the soil surface and cut down on weed growth.
  • Inspect your hose connections and bibs for leaks to make sure no water is being lost un-necessarily. 
  • Use a broom or blower, not a hose, to clean driveways, steps and sidewalks.
  • When washing vehicles or equipment, remember to turn off the hose during scrubbing; use water sparingly during the wash-down.
  • When mowing the yard, keep the mower blade at one of the higher settings. Lawns tolerate heat and drought better when kept high; "scalping" a yard reduces its ability to withstand dry conditions.
  • Direct downspouts, gutters and air conditioner drips toward shrubbery or trees, if possible; collect rainwater in a large buckets or cisterns for other outside uses.
  • Cover pools and spas to reduce evaporation when not in use.
  • Insulate your pipes for cold winter weather. Broken pipes can cause the loss of a large amount of water, and also can cost a lot of money to repair.