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Effect of groundwater withdrawals, river stage, and precipitation on water-table elevations in the Iowa River alluvial aquifer near Tama, Iowa, 2017–20

May 21, 2021

The Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa is the only federally recognized Tribe in the State of Iowa and is commonly known as the Meskwaki Nation. The Tribe owns more than 8,100 acres, referred to as the “Meskwaki Settlement.” The Meskwaki Settlement uses a well field that withdraws water from the Iowa River alluvial aquifer (IRAA) to supply drinking water to members of the Tribe. Increased severity and timing of flooding and drought conditions, coupled with water-quality concerns in the Iowa River, have prompted the Meskwaki Nation to start identifying tools to provide a better understanding of how extreme climate events (changes in streamflow, flood frequency, and magnitude and persistence of drought conditions), increasing water-supply demands, and groundwater storage depletion will affect water availability in the IRAA.

From June 2017 through September 2020, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Meskwaki Nation, collected continuous and discrete groundwater level data from 11 wells in a U.S. Geological Survey monitoring-well network. Groundwater level data collected at these wells were assessed with daily precipitation data and compared to changes in stream level elevations and daily groundwater withdrawals to determine how these changes affect groundwater-table elevations. Results from this study could be used to guide the development of a conceptual model for groundwater flow and a groundwater flow model for the IRAA to quantify and forecast the effect of groundwater withdrawals, Iowa River streamflow, and local precipitation on the water table in the IRAA.