Drought conditions are worsening across the state, but are still not serious enough that the Department of Natural Resources has activated its drought response plan.
Water Resources Center director Ryan Miller says conditions are getting close to those triggers, however. He says DNR is closely monitoring the situation and working with local and national agencies. “We do have some areas of moderate drought in both northeast and southeast Missouri, and then some areas of severe drought in extreme southeast Missouri. We’re continuing to discuss long-term climate and weather forecasts, also looking at things like groundwater levels, stream flows and other hydrologic indicators that we have as part of our assessment tools.”
Miller says there are several signs DNR looks for to begin implementing its plan. “Looking at stream flows, looking at groundwater levels, looking at levels in many of the state’s reservoirs and water supply impoundments. Then, there are several, what are called “long-term drought indices,” primarily the Palmer Index, and that takes into account long-term soil moistures and other water in storage for the state.”
The impacts that have been reported to the Department so far all involve agriculture. Those have included slow emergence of crops, more expense associated with earlier and more frequent irrigation and the conditions of pasture and hay. Miller says that is significant, but adds, “Thankfully we have not received any reports of impacts to public water supplies around the state, and we do continue to monitor reservoirs, the streams, the aquifers.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor’s next update will be available on Thursday.