07/12 - H2Woe: Louisiana’s Water Worries

How do corporate and governmental policies affect the most precious resource of all: water?

Each day over 8.5 billion gallons are withdrawn from the state’s surface and groundwater supplies. Industrial and agricultural activity, drought, and saltwater intrusion threaten aquifer levels and water quality. Regional and interstate water needs are growing yet deteriorating supply, treatment and distribution systems cannot meet future demands. What can be done to combat Louisiana’s looming water problems? Who owns and controls the state’s water supply? How do corporate and governmental policies affect the most precious resource of all: water? Wednesday, July 25 at 7PM and Sunday, July 29 at noon.

Backgrounder

Louisiana is a state with an abundance of water. Approximately 17.5% of its territorial area is covered by water. Below ground are 11 aquifer systems, the source of drinking water for more than half of its residents and nourishment for two-thirds of the state’s agricultural demand. Lakes and bayous dot the landscape while the Mississippi River, the tenth largest in the world, ends its journey at our coast.

Beginning in 1682 when La Salle claimed all of the territory drained by the Mississippi River as “Louisiana,” water has played a central role in the state’s history and growth. It is a habitat for fisheries and wildlife and a source of recreation for humans. It is critical to Louisiana industries, many which located here due to the abundance and quality of this resource. Rarely has the state had to worry about not having enough water. Concerns have usually focused on keeping communities dry and citizens safe. But regional and interstate water needs are growing.

Each day over 8.5 billion gallons are withdrawn from Louisiana’s surface and groundwater supplies. Industrial and agricultural activity, drought and saltwater intrusion threaten aquifer levels and water quality. Deteriorating supply, treatment and distribution systems may not meet future demands. What can be done to combat Louisiana’s looming water problems? Who owns and controls the state’s water supply? How do corporate and governmental policies affect one of Louisiana’s most precious resources?

...Read Full Backgrounder

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Senator Long voted against Senator Mills bill to protect thr Chicot Aquifer.

Posted by Nara Crowley  on  07/25  at  06:51 PM

When the state hears from the public they are ignored.

Posted by Nara Crowley  on  07/25  at  06:55 PM

As a teacher who knows the future of water in the Bayou State is a an important element in geography class, I enjoyed the program.

The role of teachers in anticipating water issues could be pivotal. Schools need new videos - online - and participatory study units to aid our work.

Btw, I would like to be part of the team that develops these materials.

Posted by robert e trudeau  on  07/25  at  07:04 PM

Sen. Gerald Long, R-Winnfield Head of the DNR Senate Committee that heard our pleas to get Bill 532 to the floor for a vote.  SB532 MILLS CONSERVATION - Provides for certain requirements for use of ground water from the Chicot Aquifer, an Environmental Impact Statement before doing so.  At that meeting,  April 12, a lobbyist for AGL Resources that is expanding a salt dome & going to use billions of gallons from the Chicot aquifer, said they did not want an Environmental Impact Statement as it would be a cancer (bad) for AGL Resources. Sen.  Long voted against Bill 532.  At the same April 12 meeting Sen. Morrish read that the USGS stated that there was no need for an Environmental Impact Statement.  This after Director McNutt, USGS, Washington, D.C. stated that the USGS had not studied this enough to issue a comment one way or the other.  The citizens of Louisiana should worry about their fresh water.  We citizens are screaming & no one but a few such as Sen. Fred Mills is listening.  Thank you so much for the wonderful show.  I wish other TV stations would report & show such important things. 

I was interviewd in Feb 2011 by a local TV station about the problems with the Chicot aquifer with the expansion of Jefferson Island Storage & Hub.  The station was to do more, & someone went to the station & told them not to do anymore.  It had something to do with advertising sales.  Again think you so much

Posted by Glo Conlin  on  07/25  at  08:19 PM

Finally people are waking up to the fact that there are problems with our fresh water sources not only in Louisiana but elsewhere.  I am so grateful to LPB’s programing in bringing this to the public’s attention. I only wish more TV stations would do this, because this is the most important problem in Louisiana. This show was not about not having our most important industries or farmers using water, it was about responsible withdrawal from our aquifers and use of ground water. 

Some of the interviews and panelists that struck me the most were: 

Sen. Fred Mills, R- New Iberia, who has worked very hard to try to protect our only fresh water source, the Chicot aquifer with his SB532 MILLS CONSERVATION - Provides for certain requirements for use of ground water from the Chicot Aquifer. SB532 was heard by the Senate DNR and Health & Welfare committees.  Both committees voted against the bill.  This would have help prevent saltwater intrusion into the Chicot aquifer.  The bill would have made sure with an Environmental Impact Statement that the Chicot aquifer would be protected against large withdrawals. 

Sen. Gerald Long, R-Winnfield, head of the DNR Senate Committee that heard our pleas to get Bill 532 to the floor for a vote, voted against SB532 to help protect the Chicot aquifer from large withdrawals and salt water intrusion. 

Don Briggs, lobbyist, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association stated that with the abundance of natural gas we are looking to export the gas.  Don Briggs insisted that the oil and gas companies are working with the state to protect our water supplies.

James Welsh, Commissioner of Conservation, DNR, spoke of needing a comprehensive water plan for the state. 

Hays Town, Jr., Save Baton Rouge Water, stated that there are problems with salt water intrusion in the aquifer that furnishes the water for Baton Rouge because of over use.  He stated that before long Baton Rouge will be getting their water from the Mississippi river & paying a lot more for it.  http://www.savebrwater.com/ 

The most important thing learned was it is time for action and not more talk. Thanks again LPB.

Posted by Austin Walker  on  07/26  at  07:45 AM

1.What would be involved in requiring plants along the Mississippi to use this source for their water? Also, since so much of the state has these natural gas zones, who will monitor the fracking that will result that has destroyed so many communities around the nation. Finally, just what does our DEQ do anyway. Shouldn’t they be on top of these issues, or does big business have such a hold on things that it would never happen; you know never do what is good for the people! Thank you

Posted by John M. Ikerd  on  07/26  at  08:08 AM

The survey did not capture this but I’m also very concerned about the chlorine and fluoride that we add to our water in Baton Rouge. These chemicals are very bad for us to be drinking in our tap water and I have recently made the decision only use bottled water. It’s my understanding that Baton Rouge’s tap water comes from the same aquifer as Kentwood and Abita Springs water but they are not adding the chlorine and fluoride. Thanks!

Posted by Karla  on  07/26  at  08:11 AM

About half of the water withdrawals every day are just for cooling power plants.
We withdraw more water for the energy sector than for agriculture.

If we’re really thinking in a sustainable, forward-looking, manner, then make that:
energy + water + food = one issue. And there’s urgency boiling out of these statistics.

Power plants are competing for water that farmers want for their crops!

In addition, the oil and gas industries use tens of millions of gallons a day, injecting water into aging oil fields to improve production, and to free natural gas in shale formations through hydraulic fracturing. These numbers are very large from a local prospective.

Posted by mike thibodeaux  on  07/26  at  01:10 PM

Excellent program!

Quite transparent was the greater bond between the politician and the industrialist than any other relationship among the panelists.

Here in Southwest Louisiana there are water issues that were not covered,such as the highest rate of strokes in the state, which I suspect might be linked to our utilization of the inferior, deeper aquifers containing high sodium, rather than the designated Sole Source Chicot Aquifer.

(The good water of the Chicot apparently is being reserved for the rice and soybean conglomerates, the frackers, and, of course, the Texas syndicates.)

Even though some of us have tried mightily to change things around here, we face the resistance of contrived ignorance. resistance. For example, the Beauregard Parish Police Jury is about the only one in the state that failed to pass a Source Water Protection Ordinance. They said they thought is was unnecessary and besides “we just don’t want to.”

Maybe if you do a followup program on water issues, you could put a little spotlight over this way.  I think people would be informed (and as entertained as if it were a black comedy.)

Posted by Michael Tritico  on  07/28  at  10:04 AM

I come as visitor to Baton Rouge, often, and I found that citizen here are totally unaware of natural resources and their conservation. Water is one and natural gas is other. People here burn natural gas lamp at their entrance door day and night. It not only waste of resource but we add green house gases in atmosphere. Please take this also as issue.

Posted by Talak Shah  on  07/30  at  08:44 AM

At the April 12 Louisiana DNR senate committee Sen Long did not vote for SB532 to protect the Chicot aquifer because most chairman do not vote, but he didn’t vote for it. There were 4 nays and one yes.  This from the people that are to protect our most important resource.  Sen Morrish, Jennings, stated at the meeting that agriculture, the rice farmers use the most water, not true according to the USGS. One senator that voted nay said if you require AGL Resources to get an Environmental Impact Statement before they use a large amount of water from the Chicot aquifer, it would be like a cancer spreading and would stop the oil industry. This is their mind set, protect the oil industry at any cost.  I am not against big oil, but I am for protecting our water resources.  A lobbyist spoke on the behalf of the gas company and he worked for the DNR before he became a lobbyist. 
Below is the video of the meeting.  Senator Fred Mills is working hard to protect the Chicot aquifer.  The meeting was April 12th.  Watch this & really see how the DNR protects our water sources. SB532 to protect the Chicot aquifer is at the end of the video.
http://senate.legis.state.la.us/NaturalResources/Archives/2012/video.htm

Posted by Austin Walker  on  07/31  at  06:31 AM

I just a good ole country boy with a 380’ air injection water well. How safe is my family’s drinking water?

Posted by Dave  on  08/06  at  02:49 PM

There is a lot of discussion on how we manage water. all of the discussion talked about the lower part of the state. why are we talking about wells? if there is encroachment across any fault then we are not managing surface/ground water. water is now becoming gold. LA is lucky in that we have water from both surface and ground water. there are areas in the US that i have worked that dont have that privilege. talk about about west tx

Posted by f  on  08/06  at  02:55 PM
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