National Water Census
USGS WaterSMART activities
Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin Focus Area – Studies
The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin spans Georgia, southeastern Alabama, and northwestern Florida, covering 19,800 square miles. The basin includes the drainages of the Chattahoochee River and the Flint River, which meet to form the Apalachicola River. The Apalachicola River flows into the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachicola Bay.
For over two decades, there have been periodic conflicts over water resources in the ACF River Basin among Alabama, Florida, and Georgia and other stakeholders that depend on the river system for public supply, industry, power generation, and agriculture. As the region has grown and developed over the past 50 years, competition among all water users has become more pronounced, particularly during drought conditions. The debate over water availability has focused on the management of water in reservoirs that are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Although the Corps manages these reservoirs using their own hydrologic model of the ACF mainstem, there are many other uncertainties about water availability across the river system that no existing models address adequately. The USGS WaterSMART studies will focus on the most critical of these uncertainties, including the influence of water withdrawals and wastewater returns on instream flows, the indirect effects of groundwater pumping (for irrigation) on surface water, interbasin transfers, storage in unmanaged reservoirs, and effects of increases in impervious surface and climate variability.
The ACF Basin Focus Area Study has three major components:
As with the studies in other Focus Area basins, the work being conducted in the ACF Focus Area under WaterSMART is enabling USGS to build expertise in integrating water availability and use studies at a regional scale. In addition to the studies being conducted under WaterSMART, the ACF basin and the surrounding region has served as a pilot study for developing several other Water Census methods that should be broadly transferable to other river systems. This includes research on: