The States of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, which are located adjacent to each other and north of the Gulf of Mexico, compose Segment 5 of this Atlas. The three-State area encompasses an area of nearly 149,000 square miles. These States are drained by numerous rivers and streams, such as the Atchafalaya, the Teche, the Vermilion, the Calcasieu, the Mermentau, the Sabine, the Tombigbee, the Pascagoula, the Wolf, and the Pearl Rivers, that drain directly to the Gulf of Mexico. The Yazoo, the Big Black, the Arkansas, the St. Francis, the Red, and the White Rivers are tributaries of the Mississippi River, which is the largest of the rivers that drain the three States. Although surface water is the largest source of freshwater to public supply, domestic and commercial, industrial, mining, thermoelectric power and agricultural users, ground water also is important and accounts for 38 percent of total water use in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Precipitation is the ultimate source of water that recharges the ma-jor aquifers in Segment 5. Average annual rainfall (1951-80) amounts range from about 40 to about 68 inches (fig. 1). Temporal (seasonal) and spatial variations in precipitation are evident in the three-State area.
Average annual rainfall is greatest (60 inches per year or more) in southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi and diminishes in Arkansas and in northwestern Louisiana. Precipitation is greatest during January and May in Arkansas. May to September represent the wettest months in southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. March and April are the wettest months in northern Mississippi. Average annual (1951-80) runoff ranges from less than 12 inches in western Louisiana and northwestern Arkansas to more than 20 inches in southern and northern Mississippi and in central and western Arkansas (fig. 2). Comparison of precipitation and runoff maps shows that less than one-half of the annual precipitation leaves the area as stream runoff. Much of the water that does not exit Segment 5 as runoff is returned to the atmosphere by evapotranspiration, which is the combination of transpiration by vegetation and evaporation from marshes, swamps, lakes and streams. A small amount of water recharges aquifers that are either exposed or buried to shallow depths, and an even smaller amount percolates downward and enters the deep flow system.
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USGS Numbered Series
Ground Water Atlas of the United States: Segment 5, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi