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Simulated response to pumping stress in the Sparta aquifer of southeastern Arkansas and north-central Louisiana, 1998-2027

January 1, 1998

The Sparta aquifer in southeastern Arkansas and north-central Louisiana is a major water resource for municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses. In recent years, the demand for water in some areas has resulted in withdrawals from the Sparta that significantly exceed recharge to the aquifer. Considerable drawdown has occurred in the potentiometric surface, and water users and managers alike have begun to question the ability of the aquifer to supply water for the long term. Large cones of depression are centered beneath the Grand Prairie area and the cities of Pine Bluff and El Dorado in Arkansas, and Monroe in Louisiana. Water levels in the aquifer have declined at rates greater than 1 foot per year for more than a decade in much of southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana and are now below the top of the formation in parts of Union and Columbia Counties, Arkansas, and in several areas of Louisiana. Problems related to over draft in the Sparta could result in increased drilling and pumping costs, loss of yield, salt-water intrusion, and decrease in water quality in areas of large drawdown. The effects of current ground-water withdrawals and potential future withdrawals on water availability are major concerns of water managers and users as well as the general public in the two States.
The Sparta model-a regional scale, digital ground-water flow model-was first calibrated in the mid-1980's. The model was updated and reverified using 1995-97 data. Visual inspection of the observed (1996-97) and simulated potentiometric surfaces, statistical analysis of the error for the original calibration and current reverification, and comparison of observed versus simulated hydro graphs indicates that the model is simulating conditions in the aquifer within acceptable error, and the quality of current (1998) model results is similar to the original model calibration results. When stressed with current withdrawal volumes and distributions, the model is able to simulate currently observed heads effectively as heads were simulated in the original calibration period.
Five pumping scenarios were simulated over a 30-year period based on (1) current pumping rates, (2) current rates of change in pumping, (3) decreased pumping in selected areas, (4) increased pumping in selected areas, and (5) redistribution and increase of pumping in selected areas.
Model results show that although continued pumping at current rates will result in relatively minor declines in water levels (scenario 1 above), continued pumping at currently observed rates of change will result in drastic declines across large areas of focused withdrawals (scenario 2). Under the first scenario-in which current pumping rates are input to the model for the 30-year simulation period-water levels in the middle of the cones of depression centered on El Dorado and Monroe decrease less than 10 feet. In the second scenario-in which the current rate of change in pumpage is applied to the model-substantial declines occur in the proximity of most major pumpage centers. During the 1998-2027 model period, predicted water levels decline from 307 feet below sea level to 438 feet below sea level near El Dorado, from 58 feet below sea level to 277 feet below sea level near Pine Bluff, but only by about 25 feet-from 202 feet below sea level to 225 feet below sea level near Monroe.
In the third scenario-in which minimum predicted water use figures supplied by selected facilities in Arkansas and decreased pumping estimates for Louisiana are applied to the model-simulated water levels are substantially higher at cones of depression around the major pumping centers of Monroe and El Dorado as compared to initial (1997) values. During the 1998-2027 model period, predicted water levels near Monroe increase from 202 feet below sea level to 133 feet below sea level; water levels near El Dorado increase from 307 feet below sea level to 123 feet below sea level.
For the fourth scenario-in which maxi mum pr

Publication Year 1998
Title Simulated response to pumping stress in the Sparta aquifer of southeastern Arkansas and north-central Louisiana, 1998-2027
DOI 10.3133/wri984121
Authors Phillip D. Hays, John K. Lovelace, Thomas B. Reed
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 98-4121
Index ID wri984121
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse