Real Time Groundwater Monitoring: Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer and the underlying Tertiary aquifers of the Mississippi Delta

Author(s): Parrish, P.

This Mississippi Delta in the northwest quarter of Mississippi is largely agricultural. It has long been an Office of Land and Water Resources (OLWR) priority for monitoring and research. This focus comes from the high concentration of wells and water use in this portion of the state. There are approximately 23,430 permitted groundwater wells statewide. The Mississippi Delta has 19,410 of those permits. Due to this high water use, hydrologic factors, and geologic factors, there have been growing concerns about dewatering the aquifer. Groundwater model results indicated the need for more information on the possible exchange of groundwater between the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer (MRVA), mainly used for irrigation, and the underlying drinking water Tertiary aquifers in the Mississippi Delta. OLWR began mapping areas where there are possible close proximity of sands between the aquifers. The Delta Drilling Project, initiated between the Office of Geology and OLWR, has provided several locations for sand to sand contact. With this research came the impetus for a Delta-wide monitoring network. The traditional monitoring network of semi-annual survey wells would not be adequate for this type of investigation. Real-time monitoring is an innovative technology that has become more affordable. OLWR needs measurements throughout the year (especially during pumping season) to evaluate any exchange of water between aquifers. Paired well nests were installed in five locations to begin the project. These pairs are located around the center of the regional cone of depression where close proximity sands had been mapped. Instrumentation was installed in one location on October 29, 2015. OLWR has ordered two more sets of instrumentation. The data collected include both water quality and water quantity parameters (water level, conductivity, and temperature). These parameters are sent by cellular transmission in data packets every 15 minutes. The data is housed by McCrometer, which manufactures the instrumentation, and is available through a web portal. OLWR will track fluctuations in the parameters especially during high use periods when heads may drastically differ. This will provide more data on upward recharge and any downward losses to help improve modeling inputs and better manage both drinking water and agricultural water in the Mississippi Delta. OLWR hopes to have at least one well pair in each Delta County and to provide web access for stakeholders in the future.

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