Abundant supplies of water of good quality are available in the Big Black River basin from either ground-water or surface-water sources. For 90 percent of the time flow in the lower part of the Big Black River below Pickens is not less than 85 cfs (cubic feet per second), and low flows of more than 5 cfs are available in five of the eastern tributary streams in the upper half of the basin. Chemical quality of water in the streams is excellent, except for impairment caused by pollution at several places.
The Big Black River basin is underlain by several thousand feet of clay, silt, sand, gravel, and limestone. This sedimentary material is mostly loose to semiconsolidated and is stratified. The beds dip to the southwest at the rate of 20 to 50 feet per mile. The Big Black River flows southwestward but at a lower gradient; therefore, any specific formation is at a greater depth below the river the farther one goes down stream. The formations crop out in northwest-southeast trending belts.
Most of the available ground water is contained in six geologic units; thickness of these individual units ranges from 100 to 1,000 feet. The aquifers overlap to the extent that a well drilled to the base of fresh water will, in most places, penetrate two or more aquifers. Well depths range from less than 10 to 2,400 feet.
Water suitable for most needs can be obtained from the aquifers available at most localities. Dissolved-solids content of water within an aquifer increases down the dip. Also, generally the deeper a well is the higher will be the dissolved-solids content of the water. Shallow ground water (less than 200 ft deep) in the basin usually contains about 100 mg/l (milligrams per liter) of dissolved solids. Most water in the basin from more than 2,500 feet below land surface contains m ore than 1,000 mg/l of dissolved solids. In several areas fresh water is deeper than 2,500 feet, but near the mouth of the Big Black River brackish water is only about 300 feet below land surface.
Practically all water pumped for man's use in the basin is from the ground (about 11 million gallons per day); however, a small amount of surface water is used for supplemental irrigation of row crops. Wells producing 500 to 1,000 gpm (gallons per minute) are not unusual in the basin. Most of the area is underlain by one or more aquifers from which a properly constructed well could produce as much as 2,000 gpm. All the towns in the area have sufficient ground water available to at least double or triple their ground-water pumpage.