Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019GA060B

Assessing Georgia water resources using satellite data and novel precipitation metrics

Institute: Georgia
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-05-31 End Date: 2020-05-30
Total Federal Funds: $17,942 Total Non-Federal Funds: $43,934

Principal Investigators: Marshall Shepherd

Abstract: Agriculture in Georgia is a multi-billion dollar industry. In addition to the variety of crops grown throughout the state, animals are an important part of the agricultural sector. Livestock (cattle, goats, hogs, and sheep) and poultry combined generated over $25 billion in revenue for the state in 2010. In 2005, it was estimated that livestock animals withdrew 67 Mgal/day, where 89% of withdrawals were from surface-water sources and 11% from groundwater sources. The public-supply consumed 1,180 Mgal/day where 78% of accounted withdrawals were from surface water sources and 22% were from groundwater sources. Though livestock is a relatively small fraction of the total water withdrawals for the state of Georgia (5,741 Mgal/day) in comparison to the public-supply, livestock and their products (i.e., dairy, eggs) are responsible for nearly half (49.6%) of the revenue generated in the agricultural sector. Georgia’s most recent and devastating drought on record for the state occurred in 2007. Over 50% of the state experienced exceptional drought conditions and there were shortages of water in many of the rivers, streams, and reservoirs. The drought ultimately cost the state $1.3 billion in economic damage, where $787.2 million came from agricultural production loss and forced many farmers to shrink their herds of cattle. Droughts create significant shortages of water for human, cattle, and broiler populations. Cattle populations in particular suffer during times of drought when lack of rainfall results in insufficient growth of forage for grazing and farmers are often forced to cull their herds. Additionally, shortages of water resulted in increased cost of water for the general public. Shepherd et al. (2016) developed the Precipitation Per Person (PPP) metric, which is a novel measurement to assess water resources. PPP will be utilized in this study to evaluate the precipitation for Georgia’s populations. PPP is especially valuable to understand potential water resource supply and demand changes as a function of growing populations. The United States Census Bureau reports that Georgia grew from 9,688,690 people in 2010 to 10,429,379 people in 2017, therefore increasing the demand for freshwater. Building upon the Shepherd et al. PPP metric, a precipitation per livestock (PPL) metric will be prototyped for the state of Georgia. There is a need to establish a metric to quantify precipitation for livestock populations as livestock significantly contributes to Georgia’s agricultural economy. Precipitation minus evapotranspiration minus consumption (P-E-consumption) metrics will also be calculated for the state, which provides a better representation of available water availability based off of PPP and PPL metrics.