Downstream Water Quality and Quantity Impacts Of Water Storage Systems in a Mississippi Delta Watershed

Author(s): Tagert, M.; Paz, P.; Pote, J.; Kirmeyer, R.

The Mississippi River Basin contains over 60% of the United States' harvested cropland, and the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers contribute more than three-fourths of the total nutrient load to the Gulf. Since the 1970's, groundwater levels in the Mississippi Alluvial Aquifer have decreased at a rate of approximately 100,000 acre-feet per year due to increased irrigated acres. There are roughly 13,000 permitted irrigation wells dependent on water from the Mississippi Alluvial Aquifer. Adequate supply of good quality water is vital to sustaining agriculture, the primary industry in the economically depressed Mississippi Delta. Due to concerns over groundwater declines and increasing fuel costs to run irrigation pumps, farmers have begun implementing irrigation conservation measures, such as creating on site storage areas to capture irrigation and surface water runoff from the field for later use. However, while decreases in groundwater levels have been of particular concern to agricultural producers withdrawing from the Mississippi Alluvial Aquifer in recent years, there has also been a push by federal agencies to reduce the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone. The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Nutrient Management Task Force, formed in 1997, set a goal to reduce the size of the Gulf hypoxic zone to less than 5,000 km2 by the year 2015. In 2010, the Natural Resources Conservation Service launched the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative to support the implementation of conservation practices to reduce nutrient loading in the Basin and improve water quality in the Basin and Gulf of Mexico. This presentation will outline a USDA-funded project that will determine the watershed-scale impacts of water storage systems on water quality and quantity, using the example of Porter Bayou Watershed, Mississippi.
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Technical Sessions

1 Best Management Practices #1
2 Delta Water Assessment
3 Flood Assessment & Mgmt.
4 Wetlands
5 Watershed Mgmt. #1
6 Non-Point Source Assessment
7 Modeling
8 Water Quality
9 Best Mgt. Practices #2
10 Delta Water Conservation
11 Sedimentation
12 Storm Water
13 Watershed Mgt. #2
14 Public Water Systems
15 Surface Water Assessment & Evaluation

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