Water summary shows Iowa groundwater levels remain at or near historic lows

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

March 8th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Some much need rain and snow melt is expected around Iowa this weekend. The latest water summary update, released by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, shows poor stream flow conditions and groundwater levels at or near historic lows across the state. Tim Hall, with the DNR, says the good news is Iowa received above normal precipitation in both January and February. “That’s tempered by the fact that January and February are pretty dry months, typically, to begin with,” Hall says. “So, above normal precipitation in a dry month isn’t the greatest thing in the world to shout about.” Sioux, Palo Alto, Osceola and Crawford counties are especially hard hit by low levels of shallow groundwater, according to Hall.

“We’re seeing places in northwest Iowa that were struggling to keep up with demand last summer and they’re going into this year with groundwater levels lower than they were a year ago,” Hall says. “So, they’re starting off in a weaker position.” Across much of northern Iowa, much of the rain and snow melt this weekend will runoff directly in streams, lakes or low lying areas because of concrete frost.

“That involves an ice layer frozen into the upper most part of the soil profile, which prevents rain or snow melt from getting very far down into the ground,” Hall explained. Showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop across Iowa tonight and into tomorrow (Saturday). A cold front is forecast to move into the state by Sunday and bring a chance of snow.

(Radio Iowa)