Institute to continue strategic support for long-term groundwater sustainability planning in Baton Rouge area

Jul 7, 2020

BATON ROUGE, La. (July 7, 2020) At their June 18 meeting, the Capital Area Ground Water Conservation Commission (CAGWCC) unanimously voted to move forward with Phase II in the development of a comprehensive management plan for the future of groundwater use in the region.

Contingent upon funding, work on Phase II of the effort will begin approximately two months after the hiring of an executive director for the commission, a search that is currently underway. Phase II will continue the collaboration between the Institute and leading water science and management organizations in the Gulf region, including the U.S. Geological Survey, LSU, and Freese and Nichols, Inc. Phase II follows the development of several fundamental objectives as part of Phase I to manage the Southern Hills Aquifer System sustainably by reducing saltwater intrusion into those portions currently serving drinking water customers and industrial users in the greater Baton Rouge area. The resulting “Framework for a Long-term Strategic Plan for the Capital Area Groundwater Conservation Commission,” is available here, along with the Institute’s “State of the Science” report available here.

“The progress made in phase one helped the commission come to a consensus on five fundamental objectives,” said Alyssa Dausman, Ph.D., the Institute’s vice president for science. “The next phases will evaluate a number of alternative strategies to meet those objectives and provide the commission with a better understanding of how effective each strategy would be and the trade-offs that will be necessary to provide for the long-term sustainable use of the aquifer for community and industrial users.”

Expected to take approximately two years, Phase II includes finalizing the range of alternative actions, identifying the supply and demand for water both now and into the future, better defining groundwater flow, hydrodynamic forecasting, socioeconomic considerations, water supply infrastructure, status of water conservation education, and more.

The Capital Area Ground Water Conservation District was created by the Louisiana Legislature in 1974 due to concerns about the system including declining water levels, saltwater encroachment and possible land subsidence caused by over pumping groundwater. The district’s governing commission began work in January 1975 with the tasks to develop, promote and implement management strategies to provide for the conservation and protection of local groundwater resources in the district. In 2018, the district engaged the Institute to begin the process of developing a long-term sustainability plan for the aquifer.

The Institute’s work builds upon the Louisiana Water Resources Assessment for Sustainability and Energy Management, previously conducted by the Institute for the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources-Office of Conservation and the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.