The possibility of a workshop about saltwater intrusion into parts of the Southern Hills Aquifer that serves East Baton Rouge Parish received a thumbs up Tuesday from the Capital Area Ground Water Conservation Commission.
The tentative meeting would take place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at a location to be determined in Baton Rouge to educate some of the board members and the public on the challenges and possible solutions to the problem of saltwater intrusion into freshwater aquifer.
The commission was set up by the Legislature in the 1970s to address the problem of salt water coming over the Baton Rouge fault as more fresh water was being pumped out for public and industrial use.
At the workshop proposed to the commission’s technical committee Tuesday, topics would include explaining the complexity of the aquifer system under Baton Rouge, computer modeling that is being done to try to understand the system and planning and management possibilities for groundwater, said Frank Tsai, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at LSU.
“We have to know our aquifer first,” said Tsai, who has been working on the saltwater intrusion issue for several years with the commission.
Tony Duplechin, director of the conservation district, said he wanted the meeting in December because he wanted more of a chance to get the word out to the public and to other industries that use parts of the aquifer.
“There are still some misconceptions in the public,” he said.
As an example, he said, some people think that because the Baton Rouge Water Company started operating a scavenger well designed to protect other drinking water wells, the aquifer would respond in a positive way immediately.
“It doesn’t work like that,” he said.
In a separate item, Tsai asked for financial support from the commission or industry representatives on the commission to provide match money that would support three-years worth of work on the saltwater intrusion question. He would need a commitment of about $20,000 a year from some partner to qualify to apply for about $56,000 a year grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents.
The technical committee said they would put the request on the agenda for the upcoming full commission meeting at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 16 at the U.S. Geological Survey conference room, 3535 South Sherwood Forest Blvd., Suite 120.
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