Navigation Links
Biofuels production has unintended consequences on water quality and quantity in Mississippi
Date:11/30/2010

Growing corn for biofuels production is having unintended effects on water quality and quantity in northwestern Mississippi.

More water is required to produce corn than to produce cotton in the Mississippi Delta requiring increased withdrawals of groundwater from the Mississippi River Valley alluvial (MRVA) aquifer for irrigation. This is contributing to already declining water levels in the aquifer. In addition, increased use of nitrogen fertilizer for corn in comparison to cotton could contribute to low dissolved oxygen conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.

These are some of the key findings from a study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to assess water quality and quantity in the Mississippi Delta, in relationship to biofuels production.

"Because corn uses 80 percent more water for irrigation than cotton, exchanging corn for cotton will decrease water-levels," according to Heather Welch, USGS Hydrologist and author of this USGS Report. Declining water levels in the MRVA aquifer are particularly significant in the Mississippi Delta, where the infiltration of rainfall to replenish the aquifer is low. "This is a low flat area. When it does rain, much of the precipitation is lost through evapotranspiration and to streamflow, so the rainwater never reaches the aquifer," explains Welch.

In 2006, the U.S. Department of Energy Biomass Program implemented the Biofuels Initiative. The initiative calls for the replacement of 30 percent of gasoline levels by ethanol by 2030 and the reduction of ethanol costs to prices competitive with gasoline by 2012. In the Mississippi Delta, implementation of this initiative resulted in a 47-percent decrease in the number of acres dedicated to producing cotton, which resulted in a corresponding 288-percent increase in corn acreage in the region from 2006 to 2007.

Using the USGS SPARROW model (SPAtially Referenced Regression on Watershed), scientists found that the conversion of cotton to corn acreage (comparing 2007 to 2002) is estimated to have increased the nitrogen load for the Yazoo River by 7 percent. The Yazoo River Basin has been identified as a contributor of nitrogen to the Gulf of Mexico. Levels of nitrogen in the Gulf of Mexico have resulted in low dissolved oxygen conditions which can impact fish and bottom dwelling organisms.

Locally, water level declines and decreasing water quality contributes to the Delta's poor ecosystem health. "We are seeing a loss of habitat complexity, and lowered water levels have decreased baseflow to streams," says Jeannie Barlow, USGS Hydrologist and co-author of the study. "Some streams have remained dry for months in the summer and fall during periods of low rainfall," says Barlow.

According to data provided by the Yazoo Mississippi Delta Joint Water Management District (YMD), the total amount of water stored in the aquifer has declined since 1980, and current withdrawals from the aquifer are greater than the amount of water entering the aquifer.

These USGS findings provide essential scientific information about the effects of corn-based ethanol on water resources that Delta producers can use when making their planting decisions.


'/>"/>

Contact: Melanie Gade
mgade@usgs.gov
703-648-4353
United States Geological Survey
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Algae for biofuels: Moving from promise to reality, but how fast?
2. A wiki for the biofuels research community
3. The risks and benefits of using poplars for biofuels
4. Microbial breakthrough impacts health, agriculture, biofuels
5. New biofuels processing method for mobile facilities
6. DOE awards UC San Diego consortium $9 million for algal biofuels research
7. Study paves way for new biofuels models, technologies
8. NC State wins ARPA-E grant to study extremophile production of biofuels
9. Sustainable biofuels from forests, grasslands and rangelands
10. Production of biofuels could benefit by controlling the types of cells that develop in plants
11. Berkeley Lab to build DOE advanced biofuels user facility
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/28/2016)... First quarter 2016:   , Revenues amounted ... quarter of 2015 The gross margin was 49% (27) ... the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings per share ... operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , Outlook   ... M. The operating margin for 2016 is estimated to ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016 ... "Global Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to their ... ) , ,The global gait biometrics market ... 13.98% during the period 2016-2020. Gait ... which can be used to compute factors that ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... 29, 2016 LegacyXChange, Inc. (OTC: ... and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to announce our successful ... a variety of writing instruments, ensuring athletes signatures against ... collectibles from athletes on LegacyXChange will be assured of ... DNA. Bill Bollander , CEO states, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/23/2016)... LONDON , May 23, 2016 ... Boost Efficiency by 40% - Frontage Implement a Single ... Enforce Quality, Compliance and Traceability Within the Bioanalytical lab ... the United States and China ... deployed across its laboratory facilities. In addition to serving as the ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 23, 2016 , ... ... interest organization focused on molecular nanotechnology, announced the winners for the 2015 Foresight ... physicist Richard Feynman, are given in two categories, one for experiment and the ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 20, 2016 , ... The leading ... of its most experienced veterinary clients have treated over 100 of their own patients ... technology to provide the highest level of care for their patients. , The ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... ... May 20, 2016 , ... Korean researchers say Manumycin A ... offer a new way to treat the disease. Surviving Mesothelioma has just posted an ... Scientists from several Korean institutions based their mesothelioma study on the fact the Manumycin ...
Breaking Biology Technology: