Although recent rain has provided a bit of relief for the Midwest region in the past few weeks, there are still areas that will experience both short- and long-term effects from this summer’s drought.
The USDA proclaims drought to be, on average, “one of the most costly natural hazards in the United States each year.” The Midwest state which has been most impacted is Missouri, especially in the northern region. In July of this year, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources reported that 52 of Missouri’s 114 counties were affected, which includes more than 2.6 million people. The far most southern region of Iowa has also seen some extremes, as has northeast Kansas.
Short-term effects of the drought include farming, where the decline in plant crops also causes concerns about enough feed to adequately maintain livestock, as well as challenges faced by public water systems and their ability to meet supply demands. This year’s estimated cost to Missouri agriculture industry is more than $2 billion, according to early reports from the University of Missouri Extension office. In August, it was announced that state funding will be awarded to the City of Cameron and Caldwell County Public Water Supply Number 2 to assist with shortages of drinking water resulting from the drought.
One strategy that will inevitably be brought to the forefront as a result of the drought conditions is water conservation. Although not everyone in the Midwest is directly affected by the current drought, everyone will feel the effects in one way or another. Those who are not experiencing shortages of water can help by practicing conservation.
Some simple ways to conserve water used inside your house include running only full loads when utilizing washing machines and dishwashers and turning off running water while brushing teeth, shaving and hand-washing dishes. Conserving outdoor water use includes adjusting sprinklers to avoid watering sidewalks and scheduling water times in the early morning or evening when evaporation is lighter. There are many other home improvements that can be made inside and outside your home to not only conserve water but also save money.
The Farmer’s Almanac does predict above-normal levels of precipitation for the Midwest this winter, which lends hope of fewer drought concerns for 2019.