The state’s water situation has turned around after things got very dry at the end of last year and drought was a big concern. Tim Hall of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources keeps track of the groundwater numbers. “We’d been watching various parts of the state pretty closely, but of course June was a very wet month, and that moisture came in a fairly decent widespread pattern and it’s helped to alleviate just about all of the drought conditions that we had in the state as of last week,” Hall says.
July has been cooler than normal and Hall says that also plays a big role in the water situation — especially during the growing season. “When the weather is cooler there is less demand from all the vegetation — not just corn and soybeans — but from the trees and grasses,” Hall says. “They tend to use less water when it’s not as hot. And that tends to keep that water down in the soil, and that improves and prolongs the benefit of the rainfall we’ve gotten.”
He says nearly all of Iowa had some form of drought in October of 2013, but that has changed. “There’s a very tiny spot in southeast Iowa that’s only rated ‘abnormally dry.’ So, for all intents and purposes, the state is free of drought,” Hall says. Hall says the conditions are just where they should be at this point in the year.
“This is about as normal as we are going to see it here in the state,” Hall says. “We don’t have any major groundwater issues around the state. It looks like the subsoil moistures are pretty health for the most part. So, we are sitting pretty good right now.”
Hall reminds us that the water situation was looking good around this time last year until the weather changed. But, he’s not expecting a repeat. “We were looking really good in the first half of the year and then the rainfall kind of shut off in the second half of the year. But I think my colleagues in the National Weather Service and some of the longer-term predictions are looking at what will be pretty close to normal conditions for the rest of the year,” Hall says.
He says rainfall normally starts to slow beginning in July, but he says if it stays around normal in the later summer and fall months this year, the groundwater should be in good shape.