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DNR encourages Minnesotans to reduce water use as deepening drought conditions persist

Oct 17, 2022 10:45AM ● By Content Editor
Photo: Sasikan Ulevik 

By Tommy Wiita - Bring Me The News - October 14, 2022

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is encouraging Minnesotans to use less water as the state continues to experience a prolonged drought.

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map released on Thursday shows that 43% of the state is going through abnormally dry conditions. Twelve percent of the state is either in severe or extreme drought, specifically west of the Twin Cities and southwestern Minnesota.

According to the DNR, the past two weeks mark the first time this year the state has seen any extreme drought. Last year was the worst drought since at least 1988, as more than half the state experienced extreme drought.

Droughts can persist for several years. Because of this, the DNR says Minnesotans should be more mindful of water consumption going forward.

“Precipitation deficits in fall and leading through the winter can often dictate drought conditions leading into the spring,” said Dan Hawblitzel, meteorologist-in-charge with NOAA/National Weather Service in Chanhassen. “That was the case for the 2021 drought and it is possible these deficits in late 2022 will persist into 2023.”

The demand for water now isn't as high as it is in the summer, and any precipitation that does fall will stick around for longer due to lower temperatures. The DNR says this "temporarily" reduces the necessity of more restrictive actions.

Nonetheless, it "encourages all Minnesotans to conserve water."

The DNR has already taken some actions in accordance with the Statewide Drought Plan

The agency has notified the Statewide Drought Task Force of the conditions, updated the drought page on the DNR website, and notified public water suppliers. They have urged them to implement further action to reduce water usage and put in conversation measures.

Areas that are experiencing extreme drought conditions require at least five to eight inches of rain over several weeks to help replenish water resources. Severe drought areas take around three to five inches of rain over multiple weeks as well.

Friday snowfall across the state is sure to help drought conditions, but to a limited extent. Bring Me The News Meteorologist Sven Sundgaard said the precipitation is expected to continue through the day Friday but will be short-lived and falls well short of arresting the state's drought.

How can I conserve water?

The DNR says the average Minnesotan uses 52 gallons of water per day.

There are multiple ways to conserve water, such as:

  • Take shorter showers (3-5 minutes ideally).
  • Turn off water when shampooing and lathering. Turn it back on to rinse.
  • Check how old your shower head is. According to the DNR, efficient shower heads save as much as 13,000 gallons a year for an average household.
  • Use only full loads of laundry in the washing machine.
  • Turn off automatic irrigation for your lawns. Only use them during extended dry spells.

Other tips relating to showers, toilets, washing machines, taps and faucets, leaks, irrigation timing, drought resistant and native plants, and efficient landscaping can be found on the DNR's website.

BMTN Note: Weather events in isolation can't always be pinned on climate change, but the broader trend of increasingly severe weather and record-breaking extremes seen in Minnesota and across the globe can be attributed directly to the rapidly warming climate caused by human activity. The IPCC has warned that Earth is "firmly on track toward an unlivable world," and says greenhouse gas emissions must be halved by 2030 in order to limit warming to 1.5C, which would prevent the most catastrophic effects on humankind. You can read more here.

To read this original story and more news, follow this link to the Bring Me The News website.