The study area comprises about 3,200 square miles of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain in southeast Arkansas. About 90 percent of the area drains south to the Ouachita River in Louisiana. The alluvial aquifer and the streams are hydraulically connected and are studied as an aquifer-stream system. Bayou Bartholomew is a principal stream of the system. The aquifer is underlain by confining strata of the Jackson Group and Cockfield Formation. The mean annual surface-water yield of the area that drains to the Ouachita River basin is nearly 2 million acre-feet. Flood-control projects have significantly reduced flooding in the area. Basin boundaries and low-flow characteristics of streams have been altered as a result of the flood-control projects and streamflow diversion for irrigation. The direction of ground-water flow generally is southward. Bayou Bartholomew functions mostly as a drain for ground-water flow from the west and as a recharge source to the aquifer east of the bayou. As a result of navigation pools, the Arkansas River is mostly a steady-recharge source to the aquifer. Pumpage from the aquifer and streams increased from about 20,000 acre-feet in 1941 to 237,000 acre-feet in 1970. Estimates of flow, derived from analog analysis but lacking field verification, indicate that recharge to the aquifer in 1970 was about 161,000 acre-feet. About 70 percent of the recharge was by capture from streams as a result of ground-water pumpage. Discharge from the aquifer was about 233,000 acre-feet. About 80 percent of the discharge was through wells. Stream diversion in 1970 from capture and open channel, excluding capture from the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers, was about 110,000 acre-feet. Return flow to streams from rice irrigation and fishponds was about 60,000 acre-feet. The chemical quality of streamflows is excellent for irrigation. Water from the aquifer generally ranges from permissible to excellent for irrigation. The use of water from the aquifer in the flood-plain area, exclusive of irrigation, is severely limited unless it is treated to remove the iron and reduce the hardness.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrology of the Bayou Bartholomew alluvial aquifer-stream system, Arkansas