The Northland's hot, dry summer continues and conditions have led Minnesota officials to enter the state into the drought warning phase.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 52 percent of Minnesota is now experiencing severe drought and 4 percent is in extreme drought, which lead to this action. Typically, the warning phase for drought occurs when a significant portion of the state passes thresholds for severe drought conditions at major watersheds and Minnesota has officially reached this threshold.

 

What does a drought warning mean for residents? The DNR says the following actions are trigged in a drought warning:

  • Convening the State Drought Task Force, a panel of state, federal, regional and local experts with water-related responsibilities. The Task Force was last convened in 2012.
  • Notifying water appropriators with DNR permits that they should follow water conservation measures, such as reducing landscape irrigation, using more efficient irrigation equipment, and checking for and repairing water leaks. Water appropriation permit holders can contact the local DNR area hydrologist for technical assistance or with any questions.
  • Notifying public water suppliers that it is time to implement their water-use reduction actions. Residents and landowners should watch for communications from their municipal or public water supplier for details on local water use reduction actions and restrictions.
  • Temporarily suspending or modifying some water appropriations in response to low stream flow conditions as necessary. As of July 15, the DNR has suspended water appropriations in 10 watersheds. Suspension of more surface water appropriations is expected, unless there is a dramatic change in the current precipitation pattern.

The DNR adds that under current conditions, it will take at least three to five inches of precipitation spread over a period of about two weeks to significantly alleviate the drought.

“DNR is taking the drought seriously. We have a robust plan in place, strong parnterships across the state, and continue to take actions to respond to the current situation,” said DNR Commisioner Sarah Strommen. “We understand that people are seeing the impacts of the drought in their daily lives and have concerns about water levels and availability. While occasional water level fluctuations are natural, normal and beneficial to ecosystems, they can negatively affect tourism and recreation, agriculture, businesses and other activities that are dependent on water. Times of drought remind us all about the importance of water conservation.”

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The average Minnesotan uses 52 gallons per person, per day and everyone is encouraged to look into how much water they use each day and do what they can to reduce water usage.

The drought is also impacting recreation, with boaters reporting difficulty getting boats in and out of the water due to issues related to low water levels.

Unfortunately, the current extended forecast across the Northland includes very little chances of rain so this could get worse before it gets any better.

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