Coupling Groundwater Flow Modeling with Geophysical Mapping and Hydrologic Monitoring to Assess Water Availability in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain

Author(s): Kress, W.; Barlow, J.; Hunt, R.; Pindilli, E.

The Mississippi Alluvial Plain water availability project is in it its third year of data collection and model development in support of a water availability and valuation decision support tool for the region. Years 1 and 2 of the project focused on assessing existing datasets and groundwater- flow models to help increase efficiency of geophysical mapping efforts and hydrologic monitoring networks. These field data, in turn, will help improve the next generation groundwater- flow model. This third year focuses on the development of a series of supporting models and automated data services designed to update the groundwater-flow model on regular intervals. A range of approaches is targeted, including water budget models to estimate recharge, surface-water model to supply baseflow estimates, irrigation water-use model to provide estimated pumping rates, and a geophysical model to inform the hydrogeologic framework. Stakeholder forecasts from the updated groundwater-flow model are improved as uncertainty decreases. By coupling the modeling, mapping, and monitoring within an iterative framework, an improved representation of alluvial aquifer water resources will be developed. The final outcome of this work is an encompassing economic-physical system approach that allows stakeholders to assess societal and system costs and benefits associated with water use from the MAP aquifer. The economic analysis will incorporate both supply (e.g., how a reduction in groundwater availability might affect agricultural revenue) and demand-side effects (i.e., how people’s behavior, such as crop switching, might influence the other parts of the system).The economic-physical system approach forms the basis of a decision support system, where economic and physical system analyses will provide the basis for informed cost-benefit trade-offs in the region.

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