DNR urges water conservation amid drought - New York News

DNR urges water conservation amid drought

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Being told there's a historic drought is one thing, but seeing it is another. Now that rivers are drying out, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is urging cities to cut back on their water usage.

Anyone driving south on Highway 169 toward Mankato who looks out at the Minnesota River will see it's virtually dried up in spots. In fact, the water is so low it's hard to believe the flooding that was there just a few years earlier.

Yet, as winter approaches with so little water on the ground, experts say spring could spell trouble for the rivers and lakes -- even dry wells far below the ground.

"Everybody thinks there's plenty of water in Minnesota. Well, we're in a period where there is not as much to go around," said Dave Leuthe, who works in the DNR's Water Resources Division.

According to Leuthe, 40 percent of the state is in either extreme or severe drought. The state saw it's driest September on record, and next year's precipitation is an unknown.

The Minnehaha Watershed District closed the dam at Gray's Bay weeks ahead of schedule to preserve the water level on Lake Minnetonka, which is at its lowest level in a decade.

The Minnesota River is also near a historic low. SKYFOX 9 saw long stretches of dry land. Yet, while the lakes and rivers can quickly rebound with rains, the DNR says it's a different story for the water table.

"If you're a land owner and you have a shallow well and the aquifer is going down, we're starting to see some indication of people's wells starting to go dry," Leuthe said.

Since no one knows what the future will bring, the DNR says it's best to start conserving water now.

The DNR is urging people to consider conserving water by using low-flow shower heads and checking for leaky faucets and toilets, which can waste up to 100 gallons a month. In fact, leaving the water running while you brush your teeth or wash your face can use up to seven gallons of water a minute.

"All that adds up," Leuthe said. "It all comes from the ground water systems. We think that we turn on the tap and water comes out, but it comes from some place and those sources are getting lower -- and we're concerned about it."

They also recommend only running the dishwasher when it's full and always using the proper water level for laundry loads.

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