Basic Water Resource Information Made Easy—Avoiding Overload and Underload: Water Resource Fact Sheets for Each of Louisiana’s Parishes

Vincent E. White, United States Geological Survey, 3535 South Sherwood Forest Blvd. Suite 120, Baton Rouge, LA 70816: vwhite@usgs.gov

The United State Geological Survey/Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Water Resources of Louisiana Parishes project has passed the half-way mark towards achieving this goal with the publication of 34 online and hard-copy fact sheets for each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, with 30 additional fact sheets on the way. These 64 publications, which are generally 6 pages in length, provide summaries of groundwater and surface-water availability, water quality, current and historical water usage, and an extensive list of references for readers looking for more in-depth treatments of the topic.

Accessible water-resources data and analysis are essential for the proper management of a community’s water resources. Knowledge of water availability, quality, development potential, and the impact of development is necessary for water-resources planning and protection. Water-resources information for Louisiana and many other states are presented in a variety of technical reports, each with a particular geographical scope and topical focus. Information in these reports often includes the whole state or a multi-parish area. Basic information on surface water, ground water, and water quality in a single parish of interest often has to be gleaned from several reports, many of which may be in limited circulation and difficult to locate. Many stake-holders and decision-makers are often not in a position with respect to resources and time-required to research and synthesize the available literature. Furthermore, difficulties in acquiring and analyzing data runs the spread from an apparent or actual absence of information for a parish to an information overload induced by reports conducted using different terminology in slightly different study areas in different decades. Concise summaries are needed to provide the information needed to make decisions about current and future development which meets the needs of local stakeholders of all segments and avoids the excesses of under-information and over-information.

Adjunctive beneficiaries of this project include scientists unfamiliar with a local area and the general public. Scientists will be provided a tool to quickly gain a general picture of the state of affairs in regards to water resources in a particular area as well as an already prepared list of references for further study. A second benefit of the project is the advancement of environmental justice through public awareness. Science is essential for sound natural-resource decision- making and high-quality unbiased science in general is expensive. Water Resources fact sheets provide at least a certain level of accessible and free knowledge for every community–regardless of demographic or economic factors–at parish-scale resolution for the entire state.
Key Words: water resources, fact sheet, planning, summary

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