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Groundwater Recharge from Oxbow Lake-Wetland Systems to Alluvial Aquifers
Proceedings of the 2019 Mississippi Water Resources Conference

Year: 2019 Authors: Gratzer M., Davidson G., O'Reilly A.M., Rigby J.R.


Knowing recharge rates and understanding recharge mechanisms are crucial to managing water resources. Groundwater recharge from oxbow lake-wetland systems to alluvial aquifers is poorly understood. The aim of this study is to determine whether Sky Lake, an oxbow lake-wetland system in northern Humphreys County, Mississippi, provides significant recharge to the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer (MRVAA). To answer this question, we monitored lake-wetland stage and groundwater levels in the wetland and around the entire lake-wetland system from December 2016 to October 2018. Our analysis indicates that Sky Lake provides significant recharge to the MRVAA, based on a groundwater ridge located beneath the lake, groundwater responses to surface-water changes, and a higher correlation between groundwater level and lake stage than between groundwater level and rainfall intensity. Possible recharge mechanisms include preferential flow paths created by tree limbs and roots buried in the wetland sediment as well as coarse-grained point bar deposits near the east side of the lake. Oxbow lakes are created as river meanders and tend to have forested wetlands in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. Therefore, the recharge observed at Sky Lake likely occurs at other oxbow lakes. Similar studies could be carried out at these other lakes, monitoring lake-wetland stage and groundwater levels over time to test whether these lakes significantly recharge the alluvial aquifer.

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