With all of the snow this winter, it would seem that Iowa’s drought worries should be long-gone.
That’s not necessarily true, as a new report from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources shows.
The 2013 Water Summary Review notes that the state did improve substantially in the last year. In January 2013, the entire state was in at least moderate drought, with 30 percent in extreme drought. By the end of the year in December, only 20 percent of the state rated in severe drought, with 30 percent in moderate drought.
But despite all of the snow, frost in the upper 48 inches of topsoil across the state has prevented any measurable groundwater recharge from occurring since late Nov. 2013. The report notes that adequate rainfall this spring will be critical across most of Iowa to recharge the alluvial and shallow bedrock aquifers and prevent drought conditions from reoccurring prior to the peak summer water usage.
The report is prepared by the technical staff from the Iowa DNR, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the USGS, in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department.
According to the report, precipitation for 2013 ended about normal; the first half of the year received about 7.4 inches of precipitation over normal and the second half of the year 7.7 inches under normal. Drought conditions improved dramatically during the course of the year, yet the middle portion of central Iowa remained in moderate drought by December’s end.
Shallow groundwater improved, but that was probably due to cooler temperatures rather than recharge, given the dry summer. While frost in the upper 48 inches of topsoil across the state has prevented groundwater recharge since November, soil moisture reserves are better than a year ago.
For a more thorough review of Iowa’s water resources in 2013, go to http://www.iowadnr.gov/watersummaryupdate.