Press Releases

New informational website now available highlighting history, conditions and ongoing work in the Southern Hills Aquifer

Feb 9, 2022

BATON ROUGE, La. (Feb. 9, 2022) – The Water Institute launched a new website, “Southern Hills Aquifer: Serving the Greater Baton Rouge Area,” to provide information on the history, current condition, research and work currently being done to address long-term water needs for the Greater Baton Rouge area.

The new website is meant to be a portal to not only provide basic information about the aquifer, part of which serves Baton Rouge and surrounding areas with water, but also to keep residents up to date on resources and research being conducted toward a sustainable resource.

The Louisiana State Legislature formed the Capital Area Groundwater Conservation District (the District) in 1974 to “provide for the efficient administration, conservation, orderly development, and supplementation of groundwater resources.” In 2018, the District engaged The Water Institute to support development of a long-term strategic plan, and in 2020, Louisiana State University, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Freese and Nichols joined as partners to support the work of the District and The Water Institute.

“The portion of the Southern Hill Aquifer serving the greater Baton Rouge area is challenged by pumpage and ongoing saltwater intrusion being pulled over the Baton Rouge Fault and edging closer to the wells that provide public drinking water, as well as water for industry,” said Dr. Alyssa Dausman, chief scientist with The Water Institute and lead on current work with the District.

The Water Institute and partners are now working with the District to find feasible, realistic, cost-effective, science-based alternatives to meet long-term water needs for the Greater Baton Rouge area. Using a structured decision-making approach, The Water Institute is using a broad set of tools to help decision-makers formulate a plan of action, drawing from fields such as decision analysis, operations research, economics, human dimensions, management science, behavioral psychology, and expert judgment. This process in turn supports structured conversations about the complex range of issues involved in ensuring the long-term future of freshwater resources.

“The purpose of this process is not for The Water Institute or its partners to advocate for one course of action over another,” Dausman explained. “Instead, it is a process meant to provide the science-based realities of the pros and cons of potential alternative actions so the District leadership can make informed decisions to conserve the aquifer based on their shared goals.”

The new website gives a brief primer on the District formation, the challenge of saltwater intrusion to the area’s water supply and what is being done to address this challenge. In addition, there is a section that explains the Southern Hills Aquifer, what saltwater intrusion means to water supplies, the different layers of sand that contain this water facing different threats and who uses the aquifer and how much.

“We wanted to provide a science-based website that can provide information for all levels of interest whether a person wants to know “what is an aquifer?” to people who would like to delve into the research and resources that are being developed around this challenge of sustainability,” Dausman said.

Read more about the work, and the water supply for the Greater Baton Rouge area here

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