Stream flow changes associated with water use and climatic variation in the lower Flint River Basin, southwest Georgia

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

S.W. Golladay, D.W. Hicks, and T.K. Muenz. 2007. In T. Rasmussen (editor). Proceedings of the 2007 Georgia Water Resources Conference. Athens, Georgia.


In the 1970’s agricultural water use expanded rapidly in the lower Flint River Basin resulting from the introduction of center pivot irrigation technology. The rapid expansion has raised concerns about impacts on regional stream flows essential to support aquatic fauna. Using long-term stream gage records from the USGS and climate data, we analyzed trends in stream flow in two major sub watersheds and regional patterns of rainfall from 1940 through 2004. We observed no change in annual rainfall but seasonality changed with winters being slightly wetter. Minimum flows showed substantial declines since the development of irrigation. We attribute altered stream flows to increased regional water demand however; the demand for water is also exacerbated by long-term variations in climate and rainfall distribution.