Drought conditions impact outdoor activities

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(ABC 6 News) – The drought conditions across Minnesota and Iowa are expanding across both states.

Ninty-nine percent of Iowa is under drought conditions and 98 percent of Minnesota is too. On top of that, all of Olmsted County is in a severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

June had been one of the driest months on record in Southeast Minnesota according to Olmsted County officials. The Zumbro River has water levels that are well below normal and these low levels don’t only impact anglers, but the irrigation flow for cities and golf courses as well.

“When we don’t have as much rain in the forecast it a little more challenging,” said J.T. Hauser, Superintendent of Rochester Golf and Country Club. “One of the benefits of lack of rainfalls is that we’re controlling the moisture levels and playability can be more improved with us controlling those moisture levels. It takes a toll on the irrigation system, our pumps. We find more irrigation repairs. But we also find areas where we need to find more irrigation. So a lot of benefits and cons too.”

While the moisture is controlled on the course, the places where it’s green and brown cannot be balanced out with the lack of rainfall. This isn’t just a problem for golf courses but farmers crops as well.

“So we have not a lot of water going into the ground but we’re also losing a lot of water to the air,” said Greg Klinger, Agricultural Water Quality Specialist for Olmsted County. “More than we would normally. And so when I’m driving around when I see that in terms of crops, you’ll see a lot of short corn, short crops. You’ll see a lot of spots where you see gaps in fields because seeds didn’t germinate and it kind of looks a little more patchy than it normally would.”

There are still some parts of the Zumbro River and Cascade Creek where people can go and enjoy the water, but those water levels are continuing to go down to help keep the grass and crops green.

“Rain evens everything out and irrigation is just meant to hold you between rainfalls,” said Hauser. “The rain will come it’s just a matter of when and it’ll even us back out and make our lives a litter bit easier.”

While the drought continues, officials with Albert Lea and Rochester have said it’s not to the point where water restrictions will be put into place for lawns.