Groundwater Data Assessment in the Southeastern U.S. – a Status Check of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana
Groundwater contributes approximately 40 percent of freshwater usage in the conterminous US, and its contribution in one Southeastern state, Mississippi, is 75 percent. Groundwater also indirectly sustains surface water resources, and hence its actual contribution to freshwater usage is even larger than reported. The goal of this project is to develop a comprehensive GIS-based web database that will harness publicly available data from various state agencies and water utilities across Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana while addressing critical data gaps and differences. The information included in the database can then be used to develop science-based water management and policy decisions. The comprehensive GIS-based web database will provide opportunities for research investigations to utilize various data analysis applications for potable water resources and utilities information, as well as support effective water management. It is essential to develop a more holistic understanding of freshwater usage from both surface and groundwater resources in the Southeastern United States. Over a hundred studies have assessed specific research topics and sub-regions in the Southeastern US, such as saltwater intrusion and the Mississippi River Valley alluvial aquifer system; however, the idiosyncratic approach to most research investigations can limit how we understand groundwater. Integrating science and policy is essential for advanced research investigations and developing comprehensive state water management plans that will support water sustainability. Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana do not have comprehensive state water management plans, while all the states surrounding this region have comprehensive state water management plans in place. Understanding current water management and previous water disputes provides a strong background perspective on the water resources issues that can form in this region. The lack of source water monitoring severely impacts data-driven research efforts in these three states. The database can be used in support of future management developments to enhance water sustainability.