As drought conditions continue in parts of the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is carefully monitoring the situation and taking steps as outlined in the Minnesota Statewide Drought Plan.
Regarding the overall situation in Minnesota, the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday, Aug. 11 shows:
- 17% of Minnesota is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, down from 20% last week
- 8.5% of the state is in moderate drought, down from 10% last week
- 3% is in severe drought, down from 4% last week
The current U.S. Drought Monitor map for Minnesota is available on the drought page of the DNR website.
A significant portion of the severe drought zone is in the seven-county Twin Cities Metro Area. The DNR continues to recommend that water users and water suppliers in the affected watersheds consider voluntary measures to reduce water use, such as limiting lawn watering. During drought, water resources are particularly stressed and water conservation measures are especially important.
As a result of the prolonged precipitation deficits and increased temperature averages over much of southern Minnesota, the following watersheds are now in the Drought Watch Response Phase as provided for in the Minnesota Statewide Drought Plan:
- Minnesota River Watershed
- Croix River Watershed
The DNR recognizes that other watersheds are experiencing dry conditions, but those conditions do not necessitate any response actions at this time.
To date, the DNR has not issued any restrictions on water appropriations due to low streamflow. Some streams have been experiencing low flows but not to a degree and duration that has created a need to suspend water appropriation permits.
The DNR has taken the following actions, in accordance with the Statewide Drought Plan:
- Notified the Statewide Drought Task Force about drought conditions
- Updated the drought page of the DNR website
- Notified public water suppliers in the watersheds in the Drought Watch Response Phase about the conditions and encouraged them to implement demand reduction and water conservation measures
- Continued monitoring key conditions, such as Mississippi River levels
Climatic factors that are used to categorize drought, and the possible impacts observed in each category, are explained in the U.S. Drought Monitor’s Drought Classification (droughtmonitor.unl.edu/About/AbouttheData/DroughtClassification.aspx).
The criteria for designating drought response phases are specified in the Minnesota Statewide Drought Plan and include the drought severity rating and, for the Mississippi River, flow rates at the Brooklyn Park gauge operated by the US Geological Service.
Some degree of drought occurs in Minnesota nearly every year. The 2021 drought was the most severe in Minnesota since at least 1988. Areas currently experiencing severe drought will require at least three to five inches of rain over several days or weeks to replenish water resources.
Minnesotans are encouraged to learn how much water they are using and identify ways to reduce water use now and in the future. Reducing use today saves water for the future.
More information about drought is available on the DNR website. The website includes a link where anyone can sign up to receive drought-related notifications and information.