Officials plan to update the State of Iowa’s drought response plan

DES MOINES — Three state agencies have started to review plans for how the State of Iowa would respond to a significant drought. Iowa Department of Natural Resources director Kayla Lyon said her agency issued weekly reports on drinking water supplies last year as extreme drought hit some areas of the state.

“We were really close to having a real problem,” Lyon said told an Iowa Senate budget panel yesterday, “and it was pretty dire in some parts of the state.”

Despite heavy rains in the fall, the U.S. Drought Monitor shows more than half a million Iowans live in an area where drought conditions persist. The state’s current drought response outlines were developed in the 1980s according to Lyon.

“So our staff are working together with some of the same players to modernize our state drought plan,” Lyon said.

A DNR spokesperson says the plan will likely look at how water users in the public and private sectors are prepared for drought conditions and how the state would respond if water supplies are endangered by a long-term drought. It’s expected to take a year for the DNR, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and the Iowa Department of Homeland Security Emergency Management to produce an updated drought plan.