Assessment of Improved Sensors to Monitor Water Used for Irrigation in the Mississippi Delta

Author(s): Burt, D.

The Mississippi River Valley alluvial (MRVA) aquifer spans seven states in the central part of the U.S. In northwestern Mississippi, the MRVA underlies a rich, agricultural region known locally as the Delta. Nearly all of the water used to irrigate crops in the Delta is withdrawn from the MRVA aquifer. As more and more wells are drilled to irrigate crops, the need to monitor the amount of water being pumped from the MRVA becomes more critical. Using technologies such as data loggers combined with improved sensors, the U.S. Geological Survey has partnered with the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Joint Water Management District to monitor irrigation wells throughout the Delta.

Vibration and inductance sensors are being tested on a variety of pumping applications to obtain real-time data for the amount of time that pumps are applying water during the growing season. The sensors were evaluated on about 30 test wells during the 2011 growing season to determine their ability to accurately monitor pump usage based on powering up and down and overall run-time. Once pump usage is determined, and pump rates are measured using a non-intrusive flow meter, then a total water volume pumped at each well can be calculated.

Future plans are to calculate total water volume pumped from a network of wells throughout the Delta during the growing season. Selected permitted wells in every county in the Delta for each of the four main crop types—corn, cotton, rice, and soybean—will form the network. This network can then be used to estimate irrigation water use for all other permitted wells in the Delta, aggregated by crop type and county.

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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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