The Iowa DNR’s Tim Hall tracks water issues. “We had expansion farther into the state and we also in dryness or drought being added to the list,” Hall says. “We are up to 90 — almost 100 percent of the state now being rated as abnormally dry or in drought.”
The drought scale goes from abnormally dry or D-0 up to D-4, which is exceptional drought. “There’s no D-4 in the state– although that is my understanding that is possible if we don’t get some rainfall here pretty soon,” according to Hall. “We are starting to see some movement from agricultural drought into hydrological drought — where we are seeing some significant deterioration in stream flows — and that may push the drought monitor folks to look at some D-4 in limited parts of the state.”
The agricultural drought impacts the crops and Hall says we are at a point where rain would help the soybeans — but it may be too late for corn. The hydrological impact can start to show as communities look to conserve water. “As we start to see communities that are unable to meet the demand in their water systems, then we start to see voluntary restrictions and then mandatory restrictions. Hopefully in a way that will prevent them from getting into a real problem with water supply,” Hall says.
Hall says there is still hope that the normal fall pattern of some extended rains will emerge and help alleviate some of the drought.
“In fact, the last two years September and October have been exceptionally wet in the state of Iowa. So, if we have a little bit of that weather pattern, that would be okay,” Hall says. He says it is still a balancing act of getting just the right amount of fall rains.
He says farmers need to get out and harvest so we need wetter conditions to help with the drought — but don’t want things to be too wet so they can’t get out into the field.
The Drought Monitor shows a large area in central and southwestern Iowa that saw the expansion of the extreme drought. That area has had six to ten inches less rain than normal during June-August.