Capital Area Ground Water Conservation Commission

Long-term strategic water sustainability plan

The Challenge

The Capital Area Ground Water Conservation District (CAGWCC) was created by the Louisiana Legislature through Act 678 of 1974 due to concerns in the region including water level declines of as much as 400 feet, saltwater encroachment in several local aquifers, and land subsidence caused by over-pumping of groundwater.

Saltwater encroachment has continued to be an issue over the years in the Southern Hills Aquifer System and CAGWCC has invested in monitoring, modeling, and additional science to inform its decision-making in setting groundwater use priorities and production limits as well as facilitate aquifer conservation. In addition, members have already invested in projects to identify actions to meet objectives and reduce groundwater withdrawals and are in the process of planning for scavenger wells to be drilled along the local fault line to draw saltwater away from the freshwater wells.

However, there are questions as to whether the state of the science informing CAGWCC decisions is sufficient, scavenger wells will be effective enough to conserve the aquifer over the long-term, and whether other strategies or alternatives need to be considered as the Baton Rouge area grows and water resource needs increase.

The Approach

The Institute is working with CAGWCC and other stakeholders to identify and evaluate feasible and cost-effective, science-based alternatives to meet long-term water needs through evaluation of the current science available on groundwater use and aquifer conservation and to identify management alternatives. The ultimate goal is to develop a strategic plan for the long-term water supply for users in the district.

The Institute is using a phased approach to meet project objectives following the PrOACT cycle. PrOACT is a useful framework for structuring decisions.

This includes:

• Defining the Problem

• Determining the Objectives

• Identifying Alternatives

• Evaluating Alternatives and Forecasting the Consequences

• Evaluating the Trade-offs

• Making the Decision and Taking Action