Overview of Water Availability in Mississippi

Author(s): Phillips, P.

The abundant water supplies in Mississippi constitute one of the most important and valuable natural resources in the state. These resources contribute directly to the quality of life and economic prosperity of the state. Throughout the state, there is a need for accurate assessment of groundwater resources to allow wise long-range planning and development. The water resources available in areas of the state can vary significantly depending on various hydrogeologic conditions that may affect baseflow in streams, water quality, and the amount of water local aquifers can supply. The highly variable nature of these resources means that a concerted effort must be maintained to collect related groundwater and surface water data that will allow proper decisions to be made regarding the management and development of the state’s water resources.

In Mississippi, precipitation averages about 54 inches annually. About 10% of this infiltrates to the water-saturated zone and becomes groundwater. Fresh groundwater in Mississippi occurs principally in unconsolidated sand and gravel deposits interbedded with thick, extensive layers of clay that form aquifer boundaries and is available throughout the state. Groundwater supplies 90% of water used in the state, for everything from drinking water supplies, agriculture, fish culture, to commercial and industrial uses.

The total volume of fresh water stored in Mississippi’s aquifers, which has been conservatively estimated to be in excess of 6 billion acre-feet, dwarfs the total volume of all surface water resources, but surface water is still a valued source of water supply in the state. Mississippi has 10 major river basins with 86,000 miles of streams. Surface water supplies drinking water to five entities: the City of Jackson, the City of Corinth, Short Coleman Water Association, the NE MS Regional Water Supply District, and the Jackson County Port Authority. Surface water is also used for agriculture, industries, and wildlife management, among other uses.

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