Unlike western states struggling with drought and water shortages, Louisiana’s main fight with water has been focused on how to keep it from flooding places.
That picture is changing, though, and at the request of the Louisiana Water Resources Commission, the state is working toward the development of a statewide comprehensive water plan.
Almost two years ago, the Louisiana Water Resources Commission requested funding to come up with such a plan.
Because of state budgets problems, a large-scale effort was pared down to simply determine what a water plan should look like for the state, said Matthew Reonas, with the Office of Conservation.
That smaller effort, funded through the state Department of Natural Resources Office of Conservation and the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, is now underway through The Water Institute of the Gulf, Reonas said.
The key issues to be included in this framework report will be establishing where the state stands with its water resources, determining how the water is being used and figuring out what impact increased water usage could have on the resource, he said.
“This is a smaller scale project. It’s not a comprehensive plan or a statewide plan,” Reonas told the audience on a plan update meeting Thursday.
The project started in January and should be wrapped up by the spring of 2016, said Scott Hemmerling, associate director of human dimensions with The Water Institute of the Gulf.
“We need to establish supply and demand into the future,” he said.
Researchers are gathering water data and have collected information from other states’ water resource plans to get a better idea of what Louisiana’s plan could look like.
Once that work is done, the information will be used to focus on a few areas of the state that are determined to be of concern and to see if the plan works.
Although the research into water management plans has revealed some common themes, Louisiana has additional challenges, such as a large delta system on the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers and coastal restoration projects that will use large amounts of water resources.
The next progress update will be presented this summer during the next Louisiana Water Resources Commission meeting, Reonas said.
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