Water resources of the Southeast Lowlands, Missouri

Water-Resources Investigations Report 84-4277




The Southeast Lowlands of Missouri occupies 4,000 square miles of prime agricultural land of the Coastal Plain in the extreme southeastern corner of Missouri. Even though this area receives about 4 feet of rainfall per year, there is a rapidly increasing demand for water for irrigation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the water resources of this area with particular emphasis on the extent of irrigation and the potential of the groundwater system to support further irrigation development. The area is underlain by consolidated aquifers of Paleozoic age and unconsolidated aquifers of Mesozoic and Cenozoic age. The consolidated aquifers, although possessing the potential to yield large quantities of water, generally are not used throughout much of the area because they lie at considerable death and alternate supplies are readily available. The McNairy aquifer, which underlies about three-fourths of the area, ranges from 0 to 600 feet in thickness with the top lying from 0 to more than 2,200 feet below land surface. This system is attractive as a municipal water supply because of its large artesian head and the small iron and hardness concentrations of the water. Although this system is now used exclusively for municipal water supplies, the McNairy may become more important in the future as a heat source. The Wilcox Group (undivided), which underlies more than one-half of the area and almost always lies less than 300 feet below land surface, is as much as 1,400 feet thick. However, usually only the basal 250 to 500 feet of this group is used as an aquifer. This system, which in some areas is capable of yielding as much as 1,500 gallons per minute to properly constructed wells, is now primarily used for municipal supplies. The alluvial aquifer underlies most of the area and is locally capable of yielding more than 3,000 gallons per minute. This aquifer generally is 100 to 200 feet thick, but in several places more than 250 feet of alluvium has been reported. Irrigation wells withdraw an estimated 95,000 acre-feet per year from this aquifer, whereas municipal, industrial, and domestic wells withdraw an estimated additional 17,000 acre-feet per year. This compares to nearly 6 million acre-feet per year natural discharge and a total storage of 60 million acre feet. The surface-water system in the area consists of a few natural rivers and many manmade ditches. Although a considerable quantity of water is available from the surface-water system, this system is not extensively used because attractive alternative sources are readily available. (USGS)

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Water resources of the Southeast Lowlands, Missouri
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
viii, 78 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.