Water is an abundant resource of the Mobile area. The Mobile River has an estimated average flow of 60, 000 cubic feet per second (cfs), or about 39,000 million gallons per day (mgd). It is the largest single source of water. Water is available in substantial quantities from the many local streams and extensive water-bearing formations almost anywhere in the area.
Surface water is low in dissolved mineral matter and is extremely soft. Salt water moving up the Mobile River from Mobile Bay during periods of low river flow, however, limits the use of that stream as a source of supply.
The principal water-bearing formations are the alluvium and sediments of Miocene age. The Miocene strata dip toward the southwest, forming an artesian basin in the downtown area of Mobile. Small groundwater supplies can be developed practically everywhere, and supplies for industrial or other large-scale uses are available north of Mobile.
The average use of water from all sources in the area during 1954 was about 356 mgd, of which about 20 mgd was used for domestic supplies and 336 mgd was used by industry. An estimated 42 mgd of ground water is used in the Mobile area. The discharge from wells used by industry ranges from 10 to 1,500 gallons per minute (gpm}, and the specific capacity of the large-capacity wells ranges from less than 6 to about 6 3 gpm per foot of drawdown.
Concentrated pumping in the downtown area of Mobile between 1941 and 1945 resulted in encroachment of salt water from the Mobile River into the alluvium. Because of a decrease in pumping in that vicinity, the sodium chloride content of the water has decreased substantially since 1945.
The quality of ground water is variable. Hardness of waters sampled ranged from 1 to 2, 190 parts per million (ppm}, the dissolved solids from 27 to 13, 000 ppm, and the chloride from 2.2 to 6,760 ppm. The water of best quality occurs between McIntosh and Prichard, and the water of poorest quality occurs in the downtown area of Mobile.
The water-supply systems presently developed in the metropolitan area could furnish a moderate increase without taxing their facilities; with some increase in plant and pumping facilities, they could support a substantial increase. Industries outside the metropolitan area must develop their own supplies from local streams or wells.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Water resources of the Mobile area, Alabama, with a section on salinity of the Mobile River
U.S. Geological Survey,
iv, 45 p. :ill., maps ;27 cm. + plate folded in pocket.