News & Resolutions

LWF Urges Reservoir Planning Based on Water Supply Needs

June 15, 2005 12:00 AM

In an unsuccessful appeal to members of the Louisiana Legislature during the recent regular session, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation urged that the proliferation of reservoir developments proposed to be funded with state dollars through the capital outlay budget be prioritized for funding based on water supply needs.  In a two-page resolution, LWF outlined its concerns, shared by numerous other individuals and groups who have roundly criticized some of the proposals over the past few months.

According to LWF executive director Randy Lanctot, the organization became concerned over 3 years ago when the parade of reservoirs began appearing with regularity in the Capital Outlay Bill.

"At first we just wondered what was going on, since Louisiana has plenty of lakes, rivers and other waters for recreation and aquatic habitat," said Lanctot.  "But when some of the state's scenic streams, like Six-Mile and the Pushepatapa Creeks were targeted by reservoir proponents for sacrifice to what are apparently local shoreline development schemes, we became particularly interested.  These are unique and diminishing habitats in our state," Lanctot continued, "and clearly, the process does not fully consider the significance and permanency of the losses of these resources that will be inundated by the proposed reservoirs.  We understand that sometimes sacrifice has to be made, but it should be for compelling public purposes, not merely to enrich one group at the expense of another."

The Federation's concerns are outlined in detail in the following resolution which calls for prioritization of reservoir funding based on the extent to which the projects meet real present and future water supply needs.


WHEREAS, Louisiana is blessed with an abundance of surface and ground water that is the envy of other states, and

WHEREAS, despite this abundance some aquifers are being drawn from at unsustainable rates and, during severe drought like the state experienced only a few years ago, water supply for public, agricultural and industrial uses was stressed in some areas to the extent that supply wells had to be drilled deeper and the seepage of saltwater into wells became a problem, and

WHEREAS, the state has an interest in and an obligation to support efforts to provide for adequate public, agricultural and industrial water supply, and

WHEREAS, in response to concerns with aquifer sustainability and the effects of the 1999-?02 drought, the Legislature established the Groundwater Advisory Task Force, and subsequently, the Louisiana Groundwater Resources Commission to conserve and protect the groundwater resources of the state as well as to consider the potential of surface water to contribute to aquifer sustainability by providing an alternative supply, and

WHEREAS, depending upon location, site subsurface geology, and primary purpose for construction, surface water reservoirs may be an important strategy to preserve aquifer sustainability through enhancement of recharge and/or provision of alternate supply, and

WHEREAS, the construction of reservoirs can have significant adverse impacts on forest  resources, wildlife habitat, unique stream side and stream bottom ecosystems, home sites, and churchyards and cemeteries that make up the social fabric of communities, all of which are permanently lost when a reservoir is flooded, and

WHEREAS, Louisiana has numerous reservoirs, natural lakes and floodways that provide an abundance of excellent habitat for fish and other aquatic and dependent wildlife that are well-distributed throughout the state, including the great Atchafalaya Basin, Toledo Bend Reservoir, hundreds of coastal lakes and bays, False River, Old River, Lake St. John, Lake Concordia, Lake Bruin, Poverty Point Reservoir, Larto and Saline Lakes, Black Lake/Clear Lake, Lake Bistineau, Caddo Lake, Lake Claiborne, Caney Lake, Lake D'Arbonne and dozens of other smaller lakes and reservoirs that provide boating and fishing opportunities to Louisiana citizens and visitors from throughout the nation, and

WHEREAS, the construction of any new reservoirs for the primary purposes of providing water-based recreation and real estate development may not yield any substantial net economic benefits to the state, merely shifting use and associated business from existing waters and established businesses and communities, yet the state (read: taxpayers), through capital outlay expenditures, is providing the majority of the funds needed for reservoir development, including $825,000 in Priority 1 (P1), $575,000 in Priority 2 (P2), $1,250,000 in Priority 3 (P3), $1,250,000 in Priority 4 (P4) and $1,325,000 in Priority 5 (P5) for the Washington Parish Reservoir; $100,000 in P1, $400,000 in P2, $1,000,000 in P5 for the Castor Creek-Little River Reservoir; $500,000 direct from the State General Fund, $1,500,000 in P1, $500,000 in P2, $1,000,000 in P5 for the Poverty Point Reservoir; $250,000 in P2 and $500,000 in P5 for the New Morehouse Reservoir; $400,000 in P1, $100,000 in P2, $200,000 in P5 for the Ouachita Water Supply Reservoir; $800,000 in P1, 500,000 in P2, $1,000,000 in P5 for the Allen Parish Reservoir; $1,415,000 in P1, $500,000 in P2, $3,900,000 in P3, $4,000,000 in P4, $500,000 in P5 for the Bayou Duchene Reservoir and $200,000 in P2, $9,900,000 in P3 and $9,900,00 in P 4 for the Chalk Hills Reservoir (Catahoula Parish) as approved in the Capital Outlay Budget recently adopted by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, and

WHEREAS, most of the aforementioned reservoir projects are not primarily for the purpose of meeting water supply needs and may have the effect of precluding the strategic location of reservoirs that may be needed to meet water supply needs or assist in aquifer recharge, and

WHEREAS, including reservoir projects in the Capital Outlay Budget does not guarantee that they will be built, but it encourages anxiety and expectations in the area of the project on the part of those who would lose their homes to the project and by those whose property values might be  enhanced by the project, and usually costs the state substantial dollars in consulting, engineering and administrative fees, regardless of the outcome, and therefore these proposed projects should not be considered merely local and of no impact to the state and her taxpayers.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that, to avoid the location of reservoirs contrary to the strategic development of surface water resources that may be needed to supplement groundwater supplies for public, agriculture and industrial needs; to avoid the taking of private property to benefit private interests; to ensure that the sacrifice of homes, churchyards and cemeteries, farm and forest land, wildlife habitat, scenic and unique streams, and other values that is inevitable when land is flooded for a reservoir is justified by the greater public good provided by the project; and to maximize the public benefit of the expenditure of public dollars, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation urges that state funding for the development of any new surface water reservoir be prioritized based on the capability of the proposed reservoir to supply current and reasonably foreseeable future public, agricultural and industrial water supply needs that are not being met, or are not likely to continue being met by currently available ground water and surface water supplies, as certified by the Louisiana Groundwater Resources Commission and the Commissioner of Conservation.

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