Estimating impact of forest land on groundwater recharge in a humid subtropical watershed of the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley
Study region: Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley (LMRAV) is located in the humid subtropical region of mid-south USA, and Lower Yazoo River Watershed (LYRW) in Mississippi is within the LMRAV.
Study focus: Groundwater depletion due to anthropogenic activities is an issue of water resource concern in the LMRAV. Some studies suggested that forest lands reduce water recharge from land surface into aquifers as compared to agricultural lands. However, very few efforts have been devoted to investigating the relationship of water recharge and land use in the LMRAV. This study was designed to meet this need.
New hydrological insights for the region: Using the HSPF (Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN) model along with the LYRW, we found that the annual average water recharge from the land surface into the deep aquifer over the 10-year simulation period for the three land uses was: agriculture < forest < wetland. Only 1.1, 1.2, and 1.4% of the precipitation water from the agriculture, forest, and wetland, respectively, recharged into the deep aquifer in the LYRW. Results demonstrated that forest land slightly increased rather than reduced water recharge from the land surface into the groundwater as compared to that of the agricultural land. These finding could change the traditional scientific view on how forests affect water recharge into groundwater in the humid subtropical region around the world.