Last week, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor released a report detailing how the state of Louisiana is battling water issues on multiple fronts such as water level decline, saltwater intrusion and other states wanting to use Louisiana’s water sources to make up for their own shortfalls. Auditor Daryl Purpera says the state is facing significant threats to its water resources and must act to develop a statewide plan in order to properly address them.
One of the most notable highlights from the report says the state has spent $5.3 million on a dozen studies on water resources and management over the past 64 years, most of which recommended the development of a statewide water management plan—yet the state has failed to enact any such plan.
Many of those studies also recommended regional planning processes and oversight, which a number of other states have. The report notes that five out of seven states reviewed in the region—Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia—have a statewide, comprehensive water management plan.
The report does credit Louisiana for taking “some steps to mitigate its water issues” but adds that giving state and local entities more authority to manage water resources, such as the authority to regulate water use, could help.
Most of the water-related issues that the state now faces can be traced back to “excessive groundwater withdrawals,” stemming from population growth, agricultural demand and “shifting weather patterns.”
Some of the legislative suggestions that were sent along with the report to Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder included:
• Ensure the water resource monitoring network is continuously reviewed to give oversight entities the information they need to properly manage the state’s water resources;
• Determine if more authority should be given to the Department of Natural Resources to restrict water withdrawals on new and existing wells;
• Develop regional bodies, or a regional planning process;
• Require a cooperative endeavor agreement to withdraw running water;
• Require valuation and re-evaluation models for determining the fair market value of the state’s water resources;
• Designate a person or entity to develop a comprehensive water resource management plan.
As these suggestions and the report are reviewed, the state of Louisiana is faced with the imminent threat of drastic water shortages across the entire state. In order to manage and begin to solve these issues, creating a proper water management plan will be vital for the long-term health of Louisiana.
 Arenstam, Julia. “Audit report says Louisiana must develop water management plan.” Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, 12 Feb. 2020, https://www.businessreport.com/article/audit-report-says-louisiana-must-develop-water-management-plan
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