Last year statewide precipitation was about nine inches below normal and the state experienced one of the worst droughts in half a century. The DNR is predicting that in 2013 Iowa will have another situation during which demand for water exceeds supply, hopefully the recent storm and rains will continue; however it is important for Iowa to be appropriately prepared for a natural disaster of this sort.
Although never previously used, the Iowa DNR has in place a water permit system to assure water rights in times of drought. The permits are tied to land ownership and are needed if an excess of 25,000 gallons of water a day is extracted from streams and aquifers. The DNR takes into consideration the effect on the natural flow and the river’s established average minimum flow. During drought, priority permits may be obtained for rural and municipal water systems, livestock producers, traditional crop producers, producers of power generation and commercial and industrial facilities.
Decisions about water allocation and control take place at the local level. DNR scientists have worked to make resources available for municipalities and are at the ready to consult and provide input. Iowa Code states that all waters are considered public waters and a public wealth of Iowa citizens. Waste and unreasonable methods of water use are prevented by the DNR. Protecting Iowa water and ensuring its availability is of vital importance and widely embraced.