Managed Aquifer Recharge and the Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer: On-farm and Regional Perspectives

Author(s): Rigby, J.; Barlow, J.

Groundwater from the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer (MRVAA) is the primary source for irrigation in the Delta. Withdrawals in excess of recharge in recent decades have resulted in declining groundwater levels, particularly near the central Delta. Irrigated agriculture has reached the point such that to achieve sustainability the aquifer must be managed carefully as a finite, yet renewable, resource. Management of groundwater resources is most often associated with managing withdrawals, e.g., through more efficient water use and development of alternative surface water resources. Equally, though, aquifer recharge is a part of the management equation. Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) is increasingly the guiding paradigm for groundwater resources in arid regions. MAR has not received the same attention in humid regions where the supply of water usually far exceeds the demand. In an intensively developed system like the MRVAA, however, emphasis on managing recharge is a crucial component of sustainable water resources. This presentation will examine the hydrologic dynamics of recharge to the MRVAA at farm and regional scales. The merits and challenges of a suite of techniques for managing aquifer recharge including recharge basins, vadose wells, aquifer storage and recovery, and groundwater transfers will be outlined as they relate to the MRVAA.

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