ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota has entered the "drought warning phase," according to a press release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Friday.
The DNR said that 52% of the state is now experiencing "severe drought," triggering the new designation. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor's website, impacts of severe drought include low crop yields, high fire danger, early changing of leaf colors and "very low" river flow.
“DNR is taking the drought seriously," said DNR Commisioner Sarah Strommen in the release. "We have a robust plan in place, strong parnterships across the state, and continue to take actions to respond to the current situation. We understand that people are seeing the impacts of the drought in their daily lives and have concerns about water levels and availability. While occasional water level fluctuations are natural, normal and beneficial to ecosystems, they can negatively affect tourism and recreation, agriculture, businesses and other activities that are dependent on water. Times of drought remind us all about the importance of water conservation.”
Due to the warning, the state is:
- Convening the State Drought Task Force, a panel of experts with "water-related responsibilities." It was last convened in 2012.
- Notifying water appropriators with DNR permits that they should practice water conservation measures, such as reducing landscape irrigation, using more efficient irrigation equipment and checking for and repairing water leaks. Questions about these measures can be directed to permit holders' area hydrologist.
- Telling public water suppliers to implement their "water-use reduction actions." According to the DNR, residents and landowners should watch for details on these actions as well as local water use restrictions.
- Temporarily suspending or modifying some water appropriations in response to low stream flow conditions as needed. As of Thursday, the DNR has suspended water appropriations in 10 watersheds, with more expected.
According to the release, the DNR expects it to take at least three to five inches of precipitation over about two weeks to relieve the drought.