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Water Summary Update: 2023 Water Year end shows third dry year in a row

  • 10/6/2023 11:15:00 AM
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DES MOINES - For the third year in a row, precipitation was below normal for Iowa’s Water Year, which covers Oct. 1, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2023, according to the latest Water Summary Update. That includes 2.1 inches of rain for this September, the ninth month in a row of below normal moisture in 2023.  

Precipitation for the last water year was 26.08 inches, or 9.47 inches below normal. Over the past three water years, precipitation in Iowa is almost 16 inches short of normal.

According to the Iowa Drought Plan, northeast, southwest and southeast Iowa are in the “drought warning” category due to a combination of limited recent rainfall, low streamflow and U.S. Drought Monitor designation.  

A small area in and around Tama, Benton and Linn counties could be approaching a “drought emergency” designation.

“September saw some good rain, but the month was still over an inch short of moisture,” said Tim Hall, the DNR’s Hydrology Resources Coordinator. “Last month’s shortfall, on top of the very dry summer months, is a cause for concern as we head into the normally drier fall months and the frozen soils of winter. Normal to above normal rainfall is certainly needed across nearly all of the state.” 

The heaviest rainfall in the state in late September fell in areas that needed it the most, resulting in a quick improvement from the categories of exceptional drought to extreme drought, though overall conditions remain very dry. 

For a thorough review of Iowa’s water resource trends, visit

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