Continued rains in September are adding to a wet August and have all but a portion of the state with good soil moisture levels. Tim Hall tracks the water situation for the Iowa DNR, and says the state is running four years ahead of normal this year and one foot ahead of the drought year in 2012.
But he can’t say the entire state has enough groundwater. “There are some small areas in northwest Iowa where some water utilities are still wrestling with issues related to replenishment of their aquifers. The drought for them has been very, very long developing,” Hall says.
Hall says the water companies haven’t had a break. “Their demand for water is up pretty good in that part of the state, there’s a lot of livestock that uses water in northwest Iowa. And some of those utilities are pumping a lot of water to their customers, and they’re a little bit slower to recover to where they want to be,” Hall says.
The situation is not always apparent when you look at just the rainfall numbers. “In parts of northwest Iowa, if you look at the average rainfall for the year, they’re doing pretty good,” Hall says. “But if you look at how it has been distributed, it has come in short periods of time, which isn’t as good as long steady rainfall.”
Hall says it gets tougher and tougher for the dry area to fill up the aquifers as the calendar changes. “Unfortunately we’re heading into the time of the year where typically average rainfall begins to drop off going into the fall as we get drier and drier,” Hall says. For more on Iowa’s water resource trends, go to: www.iowadnr.gov/watersummaryupdate.