The Capital Area Groundwater Conservation Commission oversees the use of groundwater in six parishes in Louisiana. In carrying out its statutory responsibilities and authorities, the Commission recognizes the complexity of its decisions: the long-term objectives it is seeking are multifaceted; the actions it can choose from are numerous and interdependent; and the understanding of the hydrogeological, economic, and social systems affected by its actions is limited. To navigate this complexity, the Commission is developing a long-term strategic plan to guide its activities and to serve as a primary mode of communication to stakeholders and the public. The long-term strategic plan is intended to consider actions and outcomes over at least the next 50 years within the 6 parishes in the Commission’s jurisdiction and related to all the confined aquifers in the 3000 feet below the district. The primary purposes of the plan are to promote long-term sustainability of groundwater extraction, continuity of operations of the Commission, long-term planning by water users, and clear communication with the public. The plan will describe specific management actions to be taken over time by the Commission, and the conditions under which those actions are to be taken. It will include intermediate milestones the Commission intends to achieve on the way toward achieving its long-term objectives. The actions under consideration include regulation and monitoring of groundwater withdrawal, mitigation of the environmental effects of withdrawal, support of relevant scientific studies, as well as work with partner agencies to implement measures to conserve, develop, and supplement groundwater resources. The plan will have greater detail about short-term actions than mid-term and long-term actions, and the Commission anticipates updating the plan periodically to adapt to changing circumstances and knowledge.
To develop its long-term strategic plan, the Commission is working with The Water Institute of the Gulf and the U.S. Geological Survey using a facilitated process based on the principles of structured decision making (Gregory et al., 2012). This document outlines the framework for the strategic plan by describing the legal, economic, and scientific context for the plan, the fundamental objectives the Commission seeks to achieve in the long term, and the strategic alternatives it is considering.