01-24-2013 08:54 AM
Iowa’s top natural resources officer is warning that water usage could be curtailed if drought conditions – severe in some places — worsen later this year.
A Hydrology Working Group formed by his agency and others is monitoring groundwater, surface water and stream flows, Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp said Jan. 23.
“We’ll have to watch that and caution people about water usage when the time comes,” said Gipp, a former
lawmaker who met with the House and Senate Natural Resources committees.
Gipp’s goal was not to scare lawmakers or the public, he said, “but we want to caution people that we are still in the middle of a drought, and we have stream segments way below normal flow.”
There is no “river” in the Skunk River at Ames, he said, and there is no water coming over the weir at Milford Creek, the outflow from the Iowa Great Lakes in northwest Iowa.
The DNR also found language in the Iowa Code – fairly weak language, Gipp said – that makes a recommendation about which water users get cut off first if you have a “water situation.”
“Obviously, the first in that protocol is out-of-state water users,” Gipp said. “Then it’s lesser priority things like crops and then organic crops and then its livestock and, obviously, the last entity to get cut off is people.”
The DNR, he added, has the ability to reduce the amount water taken by various “lower-echelon users.”
“We are required to allow enough water to go past that particular user to make sure there is sufficient water for the downstream user – if we can,” Gipp said.
01-24-2013 09:44 AM - edited 01-24-2013 09:48 AM
Faust - Pretty serious situation we are in. Guys don't seem to be too concerned about it cuz of the crop we had last year from what little precip. we had. False security. No subsoil moisture left. We used it all last year. Creeks all dry. Sloughs dried out with dust and dirt blowing off them. Yesterday with 30 mph winds dirt was blowing off the dried out slough and a small lake (trumble lake) that it looked like there was a fire. Nope just big dust cloud. Dirt blowing off fields that were worked down this fall after fall tillage. Haven't seen this much dirt move in the winter since I was a kid and we tilled everything.
They say we need up to 15 inches of rain to replenish subsoil profile to its normal level for a normal growing season. If that happens before planters roll this spring weeelllllll that will present a whole new set of problems.
There will be irrigation issues in Nebraska also. Don't think they've had much precip. this winter either. Will be interesting to say the least.
01-24-2013 10:52 AM
Don't concern yourself about water, new hybrids, leftover fertilizer and more ludicrous analyst opinions will create a Binbuster for sure. I hate to say it but after being in this business for forty years, the reinvention of the wheel is getting kind of old i.e.. Say any thing to create trade but ignore the facts.
01-24-2013 11:03 AM
I wouldn't mind if some of that Iowa dirt blew to the east and landed here in Ohio......We could use a little more topsoil.
I too, am wondering just when this dryness becomes a real story again with the traders. They sure don't seem too worried about it yet.
A question for you guys out in Nebraska, Iowa, and for that matter anywhere else that is currently very dry.......Will you plant corn if the weather remains dry? Or, will you wait on rain? Are there going to be any provisions in the crop insurance that make you wait on rain?
01-24-2013 11:26 AM
RT1, that is a very good question. I was planning a few additional acres of corn this year but wasn't going to proceed until the drought was broken. I had a few very successful neighboring producers that told me no way I should wait for this because I would miss the first year of moisture. I was told to plan and pursue as if it were a normal year because if you plan for a drought, that is what the end result will be. Plan for the best, pray for rain and if Mother Nature throws you a curveball, that is why we have crop insurance. Not saying it is correct, but definitely holds some value.
01-24-2013 11:39 AM
Interesting article, but this shouldn't affect farming since 99.999% of all Iowa farmland is non-irrigated so we use zero ground water to grow our corn.
01-24-2013 01:27 PM
I will be planting about 1/4 of my irrigated acres to oats & Peas for a hay crop. That give me the option to let that part of the fields go dry. Normally if I planted oats for hay, I would follow with hay millet, but if no rain I will let it set. My wells are not good enough to grow a good crop in a year of basicly no rain all summer like we had last year. I expect to have pivots running weeks before we plant to try and get the ground wet up. I do not have any problems with my wells pumping less as the summer goes on.
Talked to the insurance adjuster and he told me that if we have not been notified that our surface water will be limited before we plant, then the insurance will pay on what we plant. If we get notified before we plant, then no insurance coverage.
Some of my water comes out of a river. We have never been shut down, however there were rumblings about it last year, and I am afraid that if we have another summer with no rain, we could get shut down. Should that happen, I will be trying to get the costom silage cutter lined up as soon as I can get the ok from the insurance adjuster.
Last summer, the few rains we had gave us 1 or 2 1/100ths. We had the worst fires I have ever helped fight. Ground was so dry last fall that if you could get a post hole drilled with a tractor digger, the dirt ran right back in the hole. only way to get it out was pour water in. I had a 3/4" pipe I put on my fire hose and washed about 3 holes in the ground for each post hole I wanted to dig. some places the ground would absorbe the water so fast that no water came out the top of the ground and my pipe would get stuck because it was not washing the dirt up. That was with 80 lbs psi going into the pipe!
01-24-2013 01:45 PM
fcheath, You mentioned getting some of your water out of a river. How is the water level in that river today? Just wondering?
01-24-2013 09:01 PM
The niobrara river is not obviously lower, however it is wide here so that even 1/2 inch is a lot different. I expect it is running lower than normal, but it is not anywhere near dry.