Northwest Iowa Remains Dry, Reports Water Summary Update
Posted: 05/22/2014
DES MOINES — The drought monitor was unchanged this week for Iowa. This constitutes relatively good news for the state, as it reflects improvements shown in last week’s drought monitor. However, conditions in part of Iowa are still a major cause for concern, according to the Water Summary Update published May 22.

Despite the substantial improvement in most of Iowa, extreme northwest Iowa stayed abnormally dry, presenting the potential for serious problems to arise there.  Problems could occur with both municipal and industrial water users.

The situation is evident in looking at shallow groundwater levels.  Shallow groundwater levels in parts of northwest Iowa continue to be near record lows, especially the alluvial aquifers along the Rock, Floyd, Ocheyedan and Upper Little Sioux rivers.  The lower groundwater levels are the result of both dry conditions and increased water usage.  

Streamflow levels are normal (or higher) for the majority of the state.  However, the problem in northwest Iowa is also reflected in streamflow levels.  The lowest streamflow conditions are in the Little Sioux, Floyd, Soldier and Boyer river basins. With the exception of northwest Iowa, streamflows across the state have improved since the last water summary update.  

The situation is further revealed in year-to-date precipitation: The far northwest is more than 4 inches below normal, while north central portions of the state are at 3 inches or more above normal.

As the drought improves across most of Iowa, DNR will continue to carefully monitor the situation in northwest Iowa.

For a more thorough review of Iowa’s water resource trends, go to http://www.iowadnr.gov/watersummaryupdate.

The report is prepared by the technical staff from the Iowa DNR, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, IIHR—Hydroscience and Engineering and the U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department.