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Initial estimates of net infiltration and irrigation from a soil-water-balance model of the Mississippi Embayment Regional Aquifer Study Area

May 26, 2021

The Mississippi embayment encompasses about 100,000 square miles and covers parts of eight States. In 2016, the U.S. Geological Survey began updating previous work for a part of the embayment known as the Mississippi Alluvial Plain to support informed water use and agricultural policy in the region. Groundwater, water use, economic, and other related models are being combined with field surveys and observations to create a quantitative framework for evaluating regional groundwater withdrawals and their effects on long-term water availability in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain.

As part of this effort, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Soil-Water-Balance code (version 2.0) is being used to model potential groundwater recharge and irrigation water use, as necessary inputs to the long-term groundwater modeling efforts. The Soil-Water-Balance code is designed to estimate the distribution and timing of net infiltration leaving the root zone. Soil-Water-Balance makes use of gridded datasets of elevation, soils, land use (including specific crop types), and daily weather datasets to calculate other components of the root-zone water balance, including soil moisture, reference, actual evapotranspiration, snowfall, snowmelt, and canopy interception. Parameters on plant height and growing-season water needs are used to estimate crop-water demand and potential irrigation water use.

This report documents the initial construction, calibration, and application of a Soil-Water-Balance model of the Mississippi Embayment Regional Aquifer Study area for simulations running from 1915 to 2017. Further refinements of the model calibration for an expanded model area are planned.