SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The hot weather and lack of rain are taking their toll on water levels all across the region. This includes the Big Sioux River, as levels continue to decrease since the spring snowmelt.
According to USGS data, parts of the Big Sioux River are at their lowest point its seen in a long time, and with the drought conditions the last couple of years and a dry start to this summer, there’s definitely some catching up to do.
“Definitely been a dry three years, and each of those have compounded. Thankfully, we had that snow melt, that above normal snowfall this winter to provide us some buffer, but that has quickly been kind of erased over the last 30 to 60 days or so,” NWS Sioux Falls service hydrologist Andrew Kalin said.
For service hydrologist, Andrew Kalin with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, another year that’s comparable is 2012. After this year’s heavy snowmelt, the trends have continued downward with the lack of precipitation.
“You can see in the spring here, we were up at the above normal, and we were seeing that flooding near and north of Sioux Falls, and that has taken a very sharp dive back to the normal levels right now, but you can see the trajectory is very much pushing towards below normal,” Kalin said.
The solution to that problem is simple…we need more rain.
“We need to chip away both at our deficit for rainfall this year, and then also the previous the years, because we’re not just four inches below for this year, but you’ve got to take the deficits from last year and the year before that into account as well,” Kalin said.
The river levels are closely monitored by the City of Sioux Falls, and if they dip low enough, more restrictions could be put in place for lawn watering, but we’re not at that point now.
“We really preserve that river, the water levels in that river, so at some point in the weeks and months ahead, if we don’t see some more significant rainfall, we’ll probably look at watering restrictions like we’ve had to do in the last two summers based on how dry it’s been,” Sioux Falls mayor Paul TenHaken said.
Right now the Lawn Watering Program is in “Stage 1,” meaning watering can be done every other day, even-numbered addresses with even-numbered dates and odd-numbered addresses with odd-numbered dates, and it is not allowed between noon and 5 p.m.
Resident Orrin Anderson, who follows those patterns, was out watering his grass Wednesday night.
“Just keep it green. Not trying to set any records,” he said.
And if more restrictions are put in place…
“We’ll just have to deal with it if it happens. If that occurs, the first thing is to keep the hedge green, and then then flowers and then if anything left over, goes on the lawn,” Anderson said.
And as for rain…
“I would love it,” Anderson said.
And while there may not be any additional watering restrictions right now, that’s something the city will keep an eye on.
And to keep up to date on when you should or shouldn’t be watering your grass, you can visit this page on the city’s website.