News Feature | September 27, 2023

Drought Reaches The Midwest, Choking Out Crops And Challenging Residents

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga


Pervasive drought conditions have now reached the middle of the U.S., as cities in Southeast Kansas and beyond are facing never-before-seen water scarcity problems.

As persistent drought reaches Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and more communities throughout this part of the country, small towns and agriculture operations in the region have seen their intake pipes strained and must make tough choices about where to draw water.

“Lack of rain has hit crops hard: In Missouri, for example, 40% of the state’s corn crop was classified as poor or very poor, according to the drought monitor. Iowa, the nation’s top corn producer, is in the midst of its worst drought in a decade with about 80% of the state in some measure of drought,” according to the Independent. “In Southeast Kansas, locals have taken extraordinary measures to conserve the dwindling lake water supply. The city pool closed in the middle of the summer. So did the town’s only car wash. Local schools shut off drinking fountains, furnishing bottled water instead.”

“It’s an emergency,” James Rainbolt, a local water plant manager, told the Independent.

In the American West, where dealing with drought has become a way of life, increasing water scarcity has motivated innovative water management approaches and progressive regulations. As the Midwest faces increasing challenges of its own, it may be forced to do likewise. In the meantime, those most impacted by growing water scarcity can do little but hope for more rain.

“We really need more prolonged rainfall, but we can keep it at bay if we get the right amount of rain in the right places at the right times,” a local hydrologist told Undark. “We’re still hoping for some of that to happen.”