Red River Parish is on the eastern flank of the Sabine uplift in northwestern Louisiana. The 'area is underlain by lignitic clay and sand of Paleocene and Eocene age which dip to the east at the rate of about 30 feet per mile. The Red River is entrenched in these rocks in the western part of the parish. Alternating valley filling and erosion during the Quaternary period have resulted in the present lowland with flanking terraces.
In the flood-plain area moderate to large quantities of very hard, iron-bearing water, suitable for irrigation, are available to wells in the alluvial sand and gravel of Quaternary age. The aquifer ranges in thickness from 20 to slightly more than 100 feet. It is recharged by downward seepage of rainfall through overlying clay and silt, by inflow from older sands adjacent to and beneath the entrenched valley, and by infiltration from the streams where the water table is below stream level during flood stages or as a result of pumping. Water levels are highest in the middle of the valley. Ground water moves mainly toward the Red River on the east and Bayou Pierre on the west, but small amounts move down the valley. Computations based on water-level and aquifer-test data indicate that the Quaternary alluvium contains more than 330 billion gallons of ground water in storage and that the maximum discharge of ground water to the streams is slightly more than 30 mgd (million gallons per day). At times of high river stage, surface water flows into the aquifer at a rate that depends in part upon the height and duration of the river stage.
Moderate supplies of soft, iron-bearing water may be obtained from dissected Pleistocene terrace deposits that flank the flood plains of the Red River and Black Lake Bayou. However, the quantity of water that can be pumped from these deposits varies widely from place to place because of differences in the areal extent and saturated thickness of the segments of the deposits; this extent and thickness are governed in turn by the amount of erosion the deposits have undergone. Beds of fine-grained lignitic sands of Tertiary age contain water of generally good quality to depths of 150 to 450 feet. The thinness and low permeability of the sands restrict their development to low-yield wells. Water from these sands in the western part of the parish, where they lie beneath the alluvial valley, is more mineralized than that from the younger Tertiary sands exposed in the east-central area.
Streamflow records have been collected on the principal streams in Red River Parish since 1939. Additional spot low-flow data were obtained on several small streams originating within the parish for a study made in connection with the preparation of this report. Quality-of-water data for streams in the parish were collected on an occasional spot-sampling basis prior to and during this investigation. The largest source of surface water in the parish is the Red River, which drains approximately 63,400 square miles upstream from the parish. The Red River has an average flow of about 13,100 cfs (cubic feet per second), or about 8,500 mgd. Many of the streams that drain the upland area are not dependable sources of supply because their flows are not well sustained during dry seasons.
The average annual precipitation over the parish is about 52 inches, of which about 17 inches becomes runoff; this runoff is equivalent to a continuous flow of about 1.25 cfs per square mile. Seasonal and annual runoff varies, but no significant trends have been noticed.
The principal surface-water problems in the parish pertain to flood control, drainage, irrigation, and navigation. Flood problems have been alleviated considerably by the operation of Denison Dam (Lake Texoma), the completion of levees on the Red River, channel improvements on Bayou Pierre, and the completion of Wallace Lake reservoir on Cypress Bayou. There are wet lands along the Red River that would be very productive if properly drained