July 30, 2014

Wells are starting to dry up after too many 100-degree days

Crops are withering in the extreme heat and some areas of Nebraska are beginning to run short on water, as residents are urged to voluntarily conserve.

Angela Teboe, executive director of the Farm Service Agency office in Cedar County, says it’s been terribly dry there for months and conditions are deteriorating rapidly.

“We had a shortage of rain here going back from even in the fall months into winter it was short and then starting in this spring,” Teboe says. “As of July 9th, we were over 40% below normal.”

She says drought conditions are hurting row crop producers and drying up irrigation wells in the county.

Tom Moser, general manager of the Lewis and Clark Natural Resources District, says competition for water and increased irrigation use has caused the aquifers and water table to drop.

“We’re getting quite a few calls on well shortage problems, mostly from domestic well owners,” Moser says. “There’s been a heavy use of groundwater this summer and there’s some competition in usage. Primarily, I think it’s caused by the aquifers just not yielding enough water for the wells with the demand that we’re seeing.”

Moser says water tables were static until this spring, but with the heavy usage, the water supply is not able to recharge.

“This is a real abnormal year as far as water usage,” Moser says. “One of the concerns we have is there was so much tiling done earlier in the year and in the last few years that’s resulted in a loss of groundwater for the area. I have no doubt that has an effect on the ground water.”

He says natural resource districts don’t have the ability to shut off wells but they may have some say about drilling future wells.

Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton