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Commissioner of Conservation amends South Caddo Groundwater Emergency Order

Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh announced Tuesday that the aggressive groundwater management actions taken in south Caddo Parish have proven effective and aquifer monitoring in the area has shown a steady trend of water level rebound.
Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh announced Tuesday that the aggressive groundwater management actions taken in south Caddo Parish have proven effective and aquifer monitoring in the area has shown a steady trend of water level rebound.

Based on the evidence of recovery in the Carrizo-Wilcox and Upland Terrace aquifers, Welsh has amended the agency’s groundwater emergency order, in place since Sept. 2011, to relax usage restrictions in the affected areas around Keithville and through the South Shreveport-Ellerbe Road corridor.

The original order suspended groundwater use in these areas for some types of users, and imposed strict conservation requirements on all others. It was based on an evaluation of local conditions after water wells in south Caddo Parish began to run dry during an extended drought.

Since that time, continual monitoring of local aquifers has shown an ongoing trend of recovery, with current groundwater measurements not only now approaching pre-drought levels, but also maintaining a positive rate of improvement in the wake of an exceedingly dry summer in 2013.

Commissioner Welsh said the provisions of the emergency order were necessary to ensure water supply for essential needs in south Caddo Parish until drought conditions lessened and more normal rainfall patterns returned. He commended the people and businesses in the area for heeding the call to conserve and cooperating with the plan of action for managing groundwater use.

Welsh said, “On the whole, the people of south Caddo responded positively to a difficult situation, realizing that the limitations on water use were to the ultimate benefit of themselves and their neighbors, to protect the resource for the future.”

Welsh stressed that he was not lifting the order entirely, but only relaxing some of its restrictions. Residents, businesses, and industrial operators in the areas covered by the emergency order can resume normal water use for the present, but the order is still in place, pending continued evaluation of groundwater levels by the Office of Conservation, in coordination with the United States Geological Survey and LSU-Shreveport’s Red River Watershed Management Institute.

Welsh said, “The aquifers in the area produce quality water, but have constraints on their recharge ability and have been under stress the past few years. People and businesses in the area must still make sound choices in water use and water conservation. Conservation agents will continue to cite wasteful activities, such as letting lawn sprinklers send large amounts of run-off into the street. Further, we will continue to require prior notice and undertake strict assessments of requests for new wells from anyone-homeowner, real estate developer, farmer, or oil and gas operator-in the established Areas of Interest.”  
     
Gary Hanson, director of LSU-Shreveport’s Red River Watershed Management Institute, which operates jointly with Caddo Parish a network of groundwater monitor wells in the south Caddo area, supports the decision to suspend the restrictions but also to keep the order in place as a precaution.

Hanson said, “We are nearly back to the levels that we saw before the drought of 2010-2011, and that’s encouraging.  Residents in the affected areas are now more aware than ever about the limitations of our local aquifers and that should continue to mitigate overuse going forward. Continued active monitoring, combined with smart water use on the part of each and every consumer, will keep us in a manageable situation.”     

The amended groundwater emergency order, specific to water use from the Carrizo-Wilcox and Upland Terrace aquifers within the Keithville and South Shreveport-Ellerbe Road Areas of Interest, maintains the two restrictions as Welsh described above:

  • 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.
  • 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.

A notice of the changes will be sent to residents in the Areas of Interest beginning next week.

Additional information is available online at the Office of Conservation’s South Caddo website, http://dnr.la.gov/southcaddo, which features maps, graphics, charts, and other explanatory material about local aquifers, water use in Caddo Parish, and sound water conservation practices.

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