As the extreme drought conditions this summer continue to get worse, officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have enacted water restrictions that cover the majority of the state. Officially called a "drought restrictive phase", the order officially went into effect on August 18.

According to details released by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the restrictions apply to the "Mississippi River Headwaters, Rainy River and Red River watersheds". Those areas were already placed into in a statewide drought warning phase in the middle of July; however - with the new restrictions, the following orders are included:

  • Public water suppliers should limit usage by their customers - "reducing water use to 25% above January levels".
  • Notify water appropriators with DNR permits that "they should minimize non-essential water uses and follow water conservation measures such as reducing landscape irrigation, using more efficient irrigation equipment, and checking for and repairing water leaks".
  • Increase public awareness of present drought conditions.

Geographically, these restrictions apply to a majority of Northland communities - which are located within the Mississippi River headwaters.

As part of the follow-through on these restrictions from the DNR, Minnesota residents should anticipate seeing notifications from their water utility suppliers - with "details on local water use reduction actions and restrictions".  It's worth noting that some of these restrictions on "non-essential water uses" could include outdoor irrigation, car washes, and the like.

Justin Sullivan

The Summer of 2021 drought continues to plunge local water levels (rivers, lakes, streams, etc) into record-low depths.  And that situation doesn't appear to be changing any time soon.  The DNR suggests that "[u]nder current conditions, it will take at least five to nine inches of precipitation spread over a period of about one month to significantly alleviate the drought".  That timeline of lasting duration is important due to the fact that intense, heavy rainfalls of short duration tend to "run off" without soaking into the ground, or receding to waterways.

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While such a dry summer is unfamiliar in recent memory, it's non uncommon.  Many people have been comparing this summers drought situation to the most-recent extreme historic drought summers of 1988-1989.  The most-recent communique from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources shares that "[t]he current drought (summer 2021) is not as severe".

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