SOURCE WATER ASSESSMENT PROGRAM
Public Meeting and Workshop
Tuesday, November 17, 1998
7:00 PM 9:00 PM
1. This summer, water from the Red River was backing up into Twelve Mile Bayou. Is the area around the Red River going to be assessed too?
There are two intakes in the Red River so it will be assessed. Water is pumped on occasion from Twelve Mile Bayou to the Cross Lake drinking water body, so Twelve Mile Bayou will be assessed. Water bodies that feed the Red River such as Cypress Lake will be assessed.
2. I own 150 oil wells around what are considered navigable waterways, which eventually drain to "drinking water" bodies. You said that potential problems would be addressed immediately. Could you clarify that?
The assessment is identifying potential sources of contamination. Potential sources of contamination are not active sources. However, if an active source is identified, such as an above ground storage tank that is obviously leaking, it will be reported to the appropriate regulatory agency. Also, facilities that are found to be out of compliance with current regulations, such as abandoned and/or unregistered underground storage tanks, will be reported.
3. How much money has been allocated for this project?
The SWAP budget is about 2.1 million dollars. The funds for SWAP are a set-aside of the State Revolving Loan Fund received by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH). DHH and DEQ have an interagency agreement whereby the funds will be passed along to DEQ to implement SWAP.
4. If the project is budgeted at 2.1 million dollars, then you have roughly 1000 dollars per system?
It works out that way on paper but in reality larger systems will require more time and effort and smaller systems will require less. Also, the 483 transient, non-community systems will be assessed only for potential microbiological contaminant sources and underground storage tanks. For surface water systems, several systems may be covered by one assessment if there are multiple intakes in the same water body. For example, there are 30 intakes in the Mississippi River that will be included in the Mississippi River assessment.
5. Are you going to have enough money to do this? What happens if you run out?
We think so, but it's a tight budget. This is why were prioritizing systems, placing the transient non-community systems as a low priority. We want to complete all of the community systems first in case time and or money should run out. If there are any systems not completed by the end of the 3½ year time-frame they will be considered to be of high potential susceptibility until they are assessed and proven otherwise.
6. What is the relevance of your study to other types of water uses besides consumption, such as recreation or wildlife?
This study is mandated by the Safe Drinking Water Act and, therefore, only addresses drinking water use. There are many other programs implemented by DEQ that address other uses. For example, DEQ conducts a water quality inventory every 2 years, which addresses recreation, fish and wildlife propagation, and drinking water. The data are available in the State of Louisiana Water Quality Management Plan also known as the 305b report.
7. Is there no way that you can have more control over the State's program versus EPA? I know it's been mandated by Congress but you have been put under a terrible time constraint to complete this program.
Probably every state in the union will request the 18-month extension but even with the extension it's still a very tight time frame. We agree that the mandate to complete the program in such a short time frame was short sighted and we have voiced this concern to EPA. The answer we received from EPA was that it's mandated by Congress and we have no control over it. Therefore, we're going to do the best we can with what we have. The program is very valuable and should be done right. We are prioritizing systems (community vs. transient non-community) so that they can be done as thoroughly as time and money allows.
8. How long has Shreveport been conducting the Cross Lake watershed study?
Shreveport Water Dept. Environmental Affairs Manager response: The grant was awarded in March of 1996, but the initiative began in the early 90s.
9. Why did Shreveport initiate this study?
Shreveport Water Dept. Environmental Affairs Manager response: It was due to visionary people in the city, who wanted to take as good a care of the water supply as possible. We owe it to the citizens to do everything in our power to protect it.
10. Did you know this (SWAP) was coming before the mandate?
There was talk of moving toward protection activities on a watershed basis in 1995 but we were not aware of how and when this was to be done until the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996. EPA did not put out the guidance for the development of state programs until August of 1997. Furthermore, EPA added additional requirements several months after the guidance was issued.
11. When you had the public meeting in Monroe, did you address the commercial gas operations and potential impacts to the Sparta aquifer?
There have been no problems identified with oil and gas activities in the Sparta aquifer. The issue of concern with the Sparta aquifer at this point in time is quantity. There is a tremendous drawdown of the Sparta and the water level has been declining.
12. What are the options? If they're withdrawing too much water it seems at some point the aquifer will be damaged.
The City of West Monroe may have to eventually use surface water for their water supply. The source could be the Ouachita River. The City of Monroe is already using surface water from Bayou Desiard. They also have a backup intake on the Ouachita River. The problem is complex. The aquifer is used for municipal and industrial uses in both Louisiana and Arkansas so it's an interstate issue. In fact, the drawdown is heavier in Arkansas. It is also a community vs. industry issue.
13. Is community or industrial use causing the increased drawdown? I heard that an increase in population/residential use was causing it and that industrial use wasn't necessarily increasing.
USGS response: This is correct. Basically, industry has used the same amount of water since it's development in the area. Public supply use has increased dramatically since the 1960s.
14. Is there any similarity between the Sparta situation and what is happening in San Antonio as far as the drainage on their aquifer?
USGS response: In the fact that they are both declining and alternative water sources are being sought, yes. The solution may lie in what portions of Texas are already implementing, and that's a regional water supply system relying on surface water reservoirs. The water is treated and distributed through pipelines. There may be several solutions for the Sparta problem but nothing has been proposed at this point in time.
15. Is quantity going to be addressed in SWAP?
No, SWAP only addresses impacts of potential sources of contamination on quality.