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DNR Declares Ground Water Emergency in Parts of Southern Caddo Parish

Water Conservation Measures Prescribed to Mitigate Further Stress to Aquifers

Friday, August 19, 2011

BATON ROUGE - Today, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Office of Conservation issued an Emergency Order in response to effects of the extended drought conditions on the water supply in southern Caddo parish.

Emergency Order NO. ENV 2011-GW014 declares a temporary ground water emergency in accordance with LSA R.S. 38:3097.3.C(8) and the August 15, 2009 Ground Water Emergency Response Contingency Plan to implement water conservation measures and limit use of Carrizo-Wilcox and Upland Terrace aquifer system ground water withdrawn from industrial, irrigation, domestic and public supply water wells located in certain areas in South Caddo Parish during extended extraordinary drought conditions.

The National Drought Mitigation Center's U.S. Drought Monitor has designated South Caddo Parish an area experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions for nearly 15 consecutive months beginning on May 18, 2010.

"As the Department of Natural Resources is charged with managing our state's abundant natural resources, it is prudent that we take the necessary steps to conserve and protect the water supply for this region that has been adversely affected by prolonged drought," said DNR Secretary Scott A. Angelle. 

The Order, which focuses on two Areas of Interest in South Caddo Parish, prescribes specific water conservation measures to be implemented immediately in order to mitigate further stress to the Carrizo-Wilcox and Upland Terrace aquifers that supply water for those areas.

The Areas of Interest include Keithville and the Ellerbe Road area south of Shreveport. The populations of these areas depend on the Carrizo-Wilcox and/or Upland Terrace aquifer systems for drinking water and domestic use.

"The aquifer systems rely on rainfall for recharge and replenishment and the prolonged drought conditions have placed an excessive burden on the systems this year," noted Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welsh.  "Everyone in north Louisiana is urged to help conserve our ground water resources, especially now that weather conditions have necessitated the need for this order which declares a water emergency for portions of the Carrizo-Wilcox and the Upland Terrace systems," Welsh said.

United States Geological Survey (USGS) data indicates that the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer system is an aquifer system that generally produces water suitable for drinking water purposes and is currently being used predominately for domestic and public water supply in mostly rural areas of Northwest Louisiana.  However, water production from the aquifer system is reported to be physically restricted due to the aquifer's discontinuous nature and typically thin, lenticular and fine textured sand beds.

The Upland Terrace aquifer system is generally unconfined or partially confined and consists of high yield sands and gravels that are rapidly recharged by direct infiltration of rainfall.  The Upland Terrace aquifer in the Ellerbe Road area is suitable for drinking water purposes and is currently being used for domestic water supply.

The Order allows for continued use of ground water for human consumption and agricultural purposes.  Prescribed water conservation measures outlined in the Order include limitations on residential lawn and golf course fairway watering, washing of vehicles and equipment beyond what is necessary to achieve proper maintenance, the filling of ponds for aesthetic purposes, and the filling of pools beyond maintenance purposes.  Industrial wells are prohibited from withdrawing water beyond what is necessary for human consumptive and agricultural purposes, and may not exceed withdrawal of 300 gallons per day for any other reason without prior authorization from the Commissioner of Conservation.

The Order will remain in effect until the Office of Conservation has sound and objective information indicating conditions of the aquifers have improved and no longer pose a significant risk of adverse impact to the aquifers or existing water wells.

The Office of Conservation will routinely inspect the Areas of Interest for compliance and will report findings to the Commissioner of Conservation in order for the Commissioner to take any actions deemed necessary. Any instances of non-compliance may be reported to DNR's Office of Conservation to 225.342.8244.

"The Caddo Parish Commission fully supports the efforts of the Department of Natural Resources in preserving and protecting the water resources that are of vital importance to this area," said Woody Wilson, Caddo Parish Administrator.  "I appreciate that Secretary Angelle and DNR have acted quickly and responsibly in responding to the water supply situation in Northwest Louisiana, particularly in southern Caddo parish."

"I appreciate DNR being so responsive to the needs of the citizens in the Ellerbe Road area," said Mike Thibodeaux, Caddo Parish Commissioner District 9. "We want the public to understand that conservation is needed right now.  Hopefully we'll get some rain soon that will replenish the aquifers, but until then conservation will be the top priority." 

"I can't express how urgent and important water conservation is for this district.  Every day there seems to be another well going dry," said Jim Smith, Caddo Parish Commissioner District 11.  "We need all citizens to cooperate and help with this problem."

In addition to the measures prescribed in the Order, DNR recommends taking the following steps to conserve household water:

  • Use washing machines and dishwashers only when they are fully loaded. Skip any nonessential rinse cycles, use the proper water level or load size selection on the washing machine.
  • Refrigerate tap water to avoid running the faucet for a long period to get cold water.
  • Don't hand-wash or pre-wash the dishes; the dishwasher uses half the water.
  • If a dishwasher is not available, use a dishpan or plug the sink for washing and rinsing dishes.
  • Take showers instead of baths. An average five-minute shower uses 25 to 50 gallons of water. Each extra minute consumes 5 to 10 gallons.
  • Don't run water while shaving, brushing teeth or washing dishes by hand. Shut off the water while you brush.
  • Install new showerheads and sink faucets equipped with water saving devices, such as aerators or spray taps.
  • It takes two to seven gallons of water to flush a toilet. Leaks inside the toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day. Toilet leaks can be detected by adding a few drops of food coloring to water in the toilet tank. If the colored water appears in the bowl, the toilet is leaking.
  • Place a weighted plastic gallon jug in the tanks of conventional toilets to displace and save an equal amount of water with each flush.
  • Turn off the water in the shower while soaping or shampooing.
  • Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways, steps and sidewalks.
  • Water your garden during the coolest part of the day. Do not water on windy days.
  • Use mulch around shrubs and garden plants to reduce evaporation from the soil surface and cut down on weed growth, which will reduce water needs.
  • Collect water with a bucket while waiting for the shower water to heat up and use it later for watering plants.
  • Inspect and repair all leaking faucets, pipes, hoses, and toilets.
  • Direct downspouts, gutters and air conditioner drips toward shrubbery or trees, and collect rainwater in a large bucket for other outside uses.
  • Cover pools and spas to reduce evaporation.

Emergency Order NO. ENV 2011-GW014 can be viewed here.

Maps of the Areas of Interest: Keithville - Ellerbe Road Area

For more information on ground water conservation, please visit www.dnr.louisiana.gov/groundwaterconservation

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