AMES, IOWA — The lack of rain has left rivers and streams in parts of Iowa in an constant state of recession since Spring. The National Weather Service in Johnston tracks the rivers normally in times of flooding. They also do keep track of the rivers, even when there is little to no water.

“Typically in Iowa work conditioned to high flows and flooding, because we’ve had a lot of that so when you have low flow this little bit of a different animal,” said Jeff Zogg, Hydrologist from the National Weather Service in Johnston. “Now we just keep tabs on where the low flows are how that compares to historical record, support any department agencies, who are asking for help and it’s far as input into the decision making.” 

In Ames the South Skunk River is basically a series of puddles at North River Valley Park off 13th Street. The gauge lists the Skunk at 2.73 feet. One of the tributaries is Ioway Creek in Ames. At the USGS stream gauge the flow is listed at .86 of a foot. This stream is not really flowing at that point, but rather a series of puddles.

“You need a prolonged period of an above normal rain fall, preferably not a downpour like whole bunch of rain,” said Zogg. “You just a prolonged period of above normal rainfall it would really recharge the ground water.”

The low water may look problematic, but for the Des Moines Water Works, there is no need for alarm at this point.

“Although the drought continues, customer demand has dropped significantly with less lawn water occurring this time of year.  DMWW has coordinated with the city of Des Moines, for the third year in a row, this year to keep the Des Moines River Flashboards up on the Center Street Dam through winter,” said Kyle Danley COO of the Des Moines Water Works. “This will help us ensure ample water supply at our Des Moines River Intake and Pumping Facility.  DMWW has also raised the flashboards on the Raccoon River this summer to help with low river stages.”  

 The Des Moines Water Works will continue to monitor the situation. They also have back up water capacity from Maffitt Reservoir and Saylorville Reservoir.

“We continue to monitor the drought in Iowa closely, but we do not anticipate any issues meeting customer demand until possibly next summer when customer demand increases,” said Danley.