Conjunctive-Use Optimization Modeling of the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer: Evaluation of Ground-Water Sustainable Yield
Conjunctive-use optimization modeling was done to assist water managers and planners by estimating the maximum amount of ground water that hypothetically could be withdrawn from alluvial wells and from hydraulically connected streams without violating hydraulic-head or streamflow constraints. Optimization models showed that continued pumping at 1997 rates are unsustainable without violating head constraints imposed as a part of Arkansas's Critical Ground-Water Area criteria. Streamflow constraints specified within the model were based partly on minimum flow requirements for maintaining either navigation requirements, water quality, or fish habitat. Continuously pumping at 1997 rates resulted in water levels dropping below the hydraulic-head constraints (either half the aquifer thickness or 30 feet of saturated thickness), making those rates unsustainable. Optimized sustainable pumping was obtained such that water levels were maintained at or above the hydraulic-head constraints, and streamflow was maintained at or above minimum flow requirements. No single value of ground-water sustainable yield exists, as it depends on the specification of water-level and streamflow constraints, and the specification of potential ground-water and stream-withdrawal locations and their maximum allowable withdrawal rates.