The Teresina-Campo Maior area lies in a presently developing farming and grazing region near the margin of drought-prone northeast Brazil where irrigated farming offers the best potential for economic development. The area comprises 9,700 square kilometers largely of catinga-covered tabular uplands which are drained by the perennial Rio Parnatba. The climate is hot and humid most of the year but with distinct wet and dry seasons. Temperature extremes range from 20?C to 39?C and the annum rainfall averages 1,200 millimeters.
The area's ground-water reservoir is contained chiefly in sandstone aquifers of six westward-dipping sedimentary rock formations, all part of the Maranhao sedimentary basin. The youngest of these formations, namely the Piaut (Pennsylvarian), Poti (Mississippian), Longa (Upper Devonian), and Cabecas (Middle Devoniar), contain the principal aquifers. Precipitation is the primary source of recharge to these aquifers and is more than sufficient to replenish current withdrawals from wells. Underlying the principal aquifers are the untapped Pimenteiras and Serra Grande Formations (both Lower Devonian) which in areas adjacent to the report area are moderately good to excellent water producers. These aquifers are recharged principally by lateral inflow from the east. Water also occurs in the alluvial deposits (Quaternary) underlying the flood plain of the Rio Parnatba but recurrent and uncontrolled flooding at present (1966) precludes their development. Of little economic importance, because they lie above the zone of saturation, are the thin erosional remnants of the Pastos Bons (Upper Triassic), Matuca, and Pedra de Fogo (both Permian) Formations.
There are in the report area about 200 drilled wells most of which are pumped with power-driven engines. The wells range from 40 to 500 meters deep but most do not exceed 150 meters, and practically all are completed open hole. Yields range from 500 liters per day for 6-inch-diameter domestic wells to 240,000 liters per hour for 10-inch high-capacity municipal wells. Although there are many more dug wells than drilled wells, dug wells account for less than 1 percent of the current (1966) draft. The current annual withdrawal from the principal aquifers is approximately 5 million cubic meters of which almost half is used for municipal supply and the rest for rural household and irrigation uses. Additional water for public supply is available from aquifers now being pumped, and larger yields probably could be obtained from rural wells designed to take full advantage of the aquifer. Analyses of 28 samples show that the chemical quality of the water is well below the
accepted limits of mineral concentration for most uses. Water from the Longa Formation averages 842 milligrams per liter in total dissolved solids and is more mineralized than that in the Piaul and Port Formations which contain water averaging less than 300 milligrams per liter. The water in the Piaui and Poti aquifers is the most suitable in the area for irrigation and has SAR values of C1-S1 and C2-S1.
The quantities of water currently being used for irrigation are relatively small (600,000 cubic meters annually) but will increase substantially when intensive irrigation becomes a reality. Divisio de Hydrogeologia da Superintendancia do Desenvolvimento do Nordeste estimates that about 2,500 million cubic meters of water per year would be needed to irrigate about 250,000 hectares in the Teresina-Campo Maior area (about 25 percent of the total area). This goal, however, is not likely to be realized as the water requirement is five times the estimated natural recharge to the aquifers of the area.
Most of the water-bearing formations in the report area have barely been tapped and can be developed a great deal more. In fact, the current annual withdrawal from the principal aquifers is less than 0.0025 percent of a conservative estimate of annual replenishment from rainfall. Additionally, only the
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USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water in the Teresina-Campo Maior area, Piaui, Brazil