Jury ponders lake to recharge aquifer
Some Webster Parish officials are looking into the possibility of building a lake in the Minden area, but this lake won't just be for recreational use. It could potentially solve a major problem for the Sparta Aquifer.
Recently, police juror Daniel Thomas called a special meeting to discuss the possibility of adding a recharge lake to the bar pits between Dixie Inn and Minden.
The recharge lake is being proposed to help add water to the depleting Sparta Aquifer.
"The groundwater that all of us take for granted will become a major issue in the future," said Thomas, District 3 juror. "It just really makes sense to me that we need to look at the possibilities of building a lake over the major recharge to the Sparta. I feel that adding head pressure (in the form of depth of water) makes sense. These bar pits go dry some years and a lake naturally would hold the water where the recharge would potentially continue 365 days a year. I know there are going to be some negatives, but I feel that somewhere in the future this is a project that the Sparta Commission should take up and run with. I'm just trying to bring awareness to my theory."
According to the Sparta Commission, northern Louisiana (especially the northern part of Webster Parish) is close to where the Sparta Aquifer is already naturally recharged, so the wells are filled faster.
Currently, seven parishes take 90 percent of the water drawn from the Sparta. Those include Ouachita (38 percent), Bienville (20 percent due to the Jonesboro paper mill), Lincoln (14 percent), Webster (10 percent), Union (10 percent), Claiborne ( five percent) and Jackson (three percent).
Commission information says it takes 70 million gallons of water a day to service these areas. In order for the water rate to stabilize, that number needs to drop to 52 million gallons a day.
Currently, there is a project being proposed in West Monroe to use 10 million gallons a day of wastewater by building a wastewater treatment plant on Lake Darbonne.
If that project is successful, the amount of water being taken from the Sparta would still need to drop by eight million gallons a day or the aquifer would need to gain that much water a day.
Thomas said the proposed recharge lake may be able to help with that. While the exact amount of water such a lake could lend to the aquifer is not known, it's unlikely that it would be able to provide the eight million daily gallons needed.
"We are currently a donor parish to the Sparta," Thomas said. "No, it may not directly affect us now, but it could in the future. If there's some way we can come up with the money to build this thing and help contribute to the aquifer, that's great. This doesn't have to just be about Webster Parish. You see your neighbors in need and you try to help. We don't have the need, but we have the possible answer."
According to Thomas, 55 percent of the aquifer use is from the general public and that's why he feels they need to know about the situation facing Sparta.
There are meetings and inquiries going on now as to why the Sparta has been depleting at a rapid rate and how that depletion can be stopped and reversed.
At the current rate of water consumption and recharge, certain areas may be facing rationing of water by 2013.
More information about the aquifer depletion will come in a later edition of the Minden Press-Herald.
Thomas feels the bar pit area would be the best possible place for this much-needed recharge lake. It takes 53.2 years for water to travel one mile to reach the aquifer through the clay ground. In some places, the water is 200 miles or more below the surface, but water reaches the surface in some areas of the bar pits.
"Why would you go somewhere where you would have to go through 60 or 70 feet of clay when you have an area right here where the water (in Sparta) already comes to the surface," he said. "That's kind of a wasteland and already a recharge area. You're not going to find much of a more desolate area to put a lake."
As of now, Thomas has proposed another meeting on how to go about adding a recharge lake to the bar pit area. He wanted to present it to the Sparta Commission, a commission that oversees issues with the Sparta Aquifer, but they do not have the authority to approve or fund such a project.
The meeting date has not been set, but Thomas wants community members and those that have information about the Sparta Aquifer to show up and join in the discussion.
"I think there is real potential to get this off the ground," Thomas said. "It may be a long shot, but we have to try."