One of the most picturesque spots in Evangeline Parish is Chicot State Park, home to the state’s largest man-made lake. But you might be surprised to learn that hidden hundreds of feet below the bottom of the lake is a massive underground aquifer that provides a steady, clean source of water for irrigation, consumer and industrial use to fifteen parishes in Southwest Louisiana, including all of Acadiana.
We spoke with Lafayette Utilities System Director Terry Huval about the importance of the Chicot Aquifer.
“The Chicot Aquifer is an underground geographic location that has kind of a lake of water that stretches all the way from morgan city to east Texas to Alexandria, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, so it’s a very, very large plentiful water source. It’s also a very clean water source, we have done some age testing in the past and found that some of the water out of that Chicot Aquifer is 1500 years old.”
But here’s the question-how does the water travel from a massive underground lake to this point, flowing out of faucets in homes and businesses around Acadiana?
“We have deep water wells that go down as much as six or seven hundred feet that bring the water up and pump it into the water here, at which time we do the work necessary to bring it into our water transmission and distribution system, then the water leaves here and goes down the pipelines and ultimately into businesses and neighborhoods around Lafayette.” said Huval.
Before that happens, though, water from the aquifer undergoes a rigorous, multi-step purification process, that is constantly monitored, 24-7, by LUS staff members, to make sure every drop of water that flows from the system is clean and pure.
Huval says unlike other cities, such as Baton Rouge and New Orleans, which rely on the Mississippi River for their water supply, communities served by the Chicot Aquifer can count on a steady water resource for lifetimes to come.