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Des Moines water officials call for water use reduction

June 14, 2021 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials at the public water system for the city of Des Moines on Monday asked customers to begin using water wisely and cut lawn irrigation by 25% as water usage reached new highs and drought conditions slowed the flow of rivers.

The combination of high demand and low water flow resulted in Des Moines Water Works demand reaching 90% of capacity on Friday. The utility that serves 500,000 customers in central Iowa said it delivered nearly 90 million gallons of water that day.

“We have taken proactive steps to ensure we have enough water for customers, but the Raccoon River is low enough that you can walk across it. Now, we are asking our customers to do their part and use water wisely.” CEO Ted Corrigan said.

The flow rate in the Raccoon River, which is a major water source for the DMWW, is down to less than 300 cubic feet per second compared the median flow of 4,000 cubic feet per second.

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The average high temperature for Des Moines for the first 13 days of June was 88, significantly above the normal of 79.9, according to the National Weather Service. The city has had 0.02 inches of rain this month. The average is 5.26 inches.

In Iowa, 46% of the state is classified as in moderate drought up from 29% the week before, said the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. That classification means water levels are low, fire danger is high, crop yields may be effected and livestock is stressed. About a third of the state is abnormally dry, up from 25% the week before.