AMES, Iowa — As rain (with a little snow mixed in) falls across Iowa this week, it seems apparent that general drought conditions in Iowa have improved over the past month. The Department of Natural Resources reported as much in its April 4, 2013 water summary update, saying that a small area of southeast Iowa was viewed as normal on the drought monitor -- with the remainder of the state still in moderate to extreme drought conditions. Then, this week southeast Iowa received more than six inches of rain -- and flash flooding.
Iowans preparing for and recovering from both natural disasters -- drought and flooding -- have easy access to information from the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach homepage, www.extension.iastate.edu. The Dealing with Drought – 2013 webpage, linked from the ISU Extension homepage, contains resources on farm, family and business topics related to dealing with drought.
New information was added to the drought webpage this week -- a presentation on emergency water storage for crop and livestock producers, because even with above normal rainfall, groundwater and well levels in Iowa are likely to require many months to recharge. The presentation prepared by Shawn Shouse and Tom Glanville, agricultural engineers with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will help producers in rural western Iowa – an area that remains in varying levels of drought conditions.
“This informational presentation is designed to help farmers understand how shallow groundwater resources (wells) can be impacted during and beyond drought,” said Shouse. “It also describes how they can use onsite emergency water storage to help meet daily water demands with stressed or limited water supplies.”
The DNR’s April 4 update said improvement to drought conditions must continue, especially in western Iowa, before statewide drought conditions are greatly reduced or eliminated. Conditions are slowly improving, but there is a long way to go. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a Seasonal Drought Outlook valid through June 30. It indicates that for the eastern three-quarters of the state “conditions are likely to improve” and the outlook for the western quarter calls for “drought ongoing, with some improvement.”
Linda Fischer, eastern Iowa regional director for ISU Extension and Outreach, had flashbacks to 2008 eastern Iowa flooding as rains fell this week and communities began sandbagging efforts.
“ISU Extension and Outreach and other state extension services have a network to share disaster preparedness and response resources,” said Fischer, an Iowa State representative to the Extension Disaster Education Network, known as EDEN. “Iowans threatened by or dealing with the aftermath of flash flooding will find resources listed on the ISU Extension and Outreach homepage very useful.”
First Steps to Food Recovery and Storm Recovery Guide are both available on the ISU Extension and Outreach homepage at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/. County extension offices also have flood and drought resources available; find county extension office locations at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/content/county-offices.