Albert Lea urges residents to reduce outdoor water use amidst extreme drought

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(ABC 6 News) – Freeborn County is currently in an extreme drought, but the City of Albert Lea is taking precautionary steps to stay ahead of any potential issues.

“23 years and I’ve never seen it this dry,” Assistant Director of Public Works, Ryan Hajek said.

The city sent out a statement of what residents should do during the extreme drought.

Residents should:

  • Let lawns go dormant or greatly reduce watering them.
  • Postpone washing vehicles and power-washing buildings until further notice.
  • Continue to water trees, flowers and vegetable gardens.
  • If needing to water outdoor vegetation, do so only at night or early in the morning to slow down evaporation.

The recommendation came from the Minnesota Department of Resources.

“This is just more or less a guidance for what our public should use. We’re by no means running low on water, our wells here in town, we have 4 wells, 3 we regularly use, 1 is an emergency well if pressure gets so low,” Hajek said.

The Minnesota DNR has five drought plan phases.

Right now, Freeborn County is in the restrictive phase which are for areas in an extreme drought.

The wells are over 300 feet deep and even though water levels are four feet lower than normal, it’s nothing to be concerned about.

“We have roughly 150 feet of water to work with, so we’ve got plenty of water to go around but they’re just being precautionary on things that we should do when it’s dry like this,” Hajek said.

It’s been an extremely dry summer and with fall right around the corner, it’s something that’s abnormal.

“What’s abnormal about this is that we’ve seen three significant droughts in three consecutive years, so 2021, 2022, and then again this year,” Minnesota State Climatologist Dr. Luigi Romolo said.

Freeborn County would need a significant amount of rainfall to lower their drought conditions.

For now, residents are encouraged to follow the recommendations to reduce outdoor water use.