Groundwater has been known and acknowledged by mankind for thousands of years. Stored in aquifers, it is the largest single supply of fresh water available to the human population. Less susceptible to bacterial contamination than surface water, it is, nevertheless, still exposed to dissolved minerals and organic material which may cause the water to be unfit to consume.
Although no study has been made on Vicksburg National Military Park’s groundwater, nearby areas have been surveyed to determine groundwater potential for the industrial area adjacent to the northern end of the park. It has been determined that the alluvium – sediment deposited by flowing water – provides the principle water supply for this area, and is considered harder, that is, containing more iron and higher temperatures, than the lower groundwater formations in the area.
Historically, Vicksburg citizens relied heavily on cisterns, rather than wells dug in the groundwater aquifer, to supply their fresh water, leaving them in dire straits during the siege of the city, when these precious commodities ran dry.