A state hydrologist says recent rains have replentished drinking water supplies in key segments of the state, but significant areas of moderate drought remain in an area extending from northwest to southeast Iowa.
Tim Hall of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says northwest Iowa has been the most challenging part of the state for the last several years when it comes to drinking water.
“They don’t have a lot of alternative water supplies next to the streams and rivers,” Hall says.
Livestock operations in northwest Iowa place a high demand on water, too, according to Hall. The rain that’s fallen in northwest Iowa during the month of August means the surface water supply has improved significantly.
However, in south central Iowa there are small segments where extreme drought conditions persist. Hall says drinking water supplies are stable there.
“Much of the concern is more centered on an agricultural drought,” Hall says, “so people may have plenty of water to drink in their systems, but if the crops don’t have suficient soil moisture, then that’s a problem.”
The two percent of the state in that remains in the “extreme drought” category is mainly in Clarke and Wapello Counties.
“It’s been very interesting this year to see the contrast between eastern Iowa and western Iowa and we finally have started to see that balance out a little bit in the rains we’ve gotten,” Hall says. “The last rains we’ve had this week have been more heavily falling in the western part of the state than in the eastern part, whereas that was flip-flopped earlier in the year.”
The monthly water summary from the Department of Natural Resources indicates Guthrie Center has gotten the most rain this month — 9.51 inches. Groundwater levels are rated as “shallow” in the lower Des Moines River watershed which stretches through southeast Iowa from the Saylorville Reservoir to the Mississippi River near Keokuk. Groundwater levels are shallow in the Skunk River basin as well. The Skunk River’s headwaters are in north central Iowa and it drains into the Mississippi near Burlington.