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Posted on: September 6, 2023

Water Conservation Needed: Drought Conditions Have Intensified in MN

Aerial view of Mississippi River with trees on the right bank and buildings on the left

Water Conservation Needed

Drought Conditions Have Intensified in MN


Drought Warning Response Phase

Earlier this summer the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) announced that the Mississippi Headwaters watershed had entered the Drought Warning Response Phase as described in the Minnesota Statewide Drought Plan. The City of St. Cloud is within the Mississippi Headwaters watershed.  

St. Cloud residents should be mindful of their water use during this drought period. Careful stewardship of Minnesota's water resources is always important. During drought, water resources are particularly stressed and water conservation measures are especially important. Water Conservation tips are available here and on St. Cloud’s Water Conservation page.

According to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map released by the MNDNR on August 31, virtually all of Minnesota continues experiencing abnormally dry, moderate, severe or extreme drought conditions.  Drought conditions intensified in east-central and southeastern Minnesota over the past week. It is important to note that other areas of the state, where no changes in drought status were observed, are moving deeper into their respective drought classifications. Hot and dry weather forecasted over the next two weeks is likely to result in an expansion of severe and extreme drought conditions.

 The City of St. Cloud, along with all other public water suppliers in the state, is partnering with and will receive guidance from, the MNDNR throughout the remainder of this drought period.

Thank you to those that have already put forth water conservation efforts before and during this recent drought period.  Due to continued drought conditions, more water conservation efforts are needed. The City of St. Cloud’s drinking water source is the Mississippi River rather than groundwater. The Mississippi River is a large, reliable drinking water source; however, water conservation is still a vital element of drought response plans. Water conservation helps preserve our natural resources and protect against drought impacts. 

Water Conservation Status 

Effective August 8, 2023, the City is encouraging customers to limit lawn irrigation to once or twice a week. In fact, the University of Minnesota’s Extension Office turf specialists recommend deep depth watering just once or twice a week to encourage rooting and drought tolerance. Temporary lawn discoloration may occur during drought periods. They recommend watering to wet soils to a depth of six inches, assuming no rainfall has occurred. For more information on home lawn water-saving strategies, see this article from the U of M Extension Office turf specialists. This article is also linked on St. Cloud’s Water Conservation page

Conservation Tips

It is important to conserve water inside and outside of your property

Outdoor Water Conservation Tips:

  • Water grass as needed – Most lawns only need 1” of water a week. Turn off any automatic watering controls. Only turn the water on when your lawn shows signs of excessive dryness. 
  • Mulch your trees and plants – Mulch helps prevent water evaporation and prevents some weed growth.
  • Leave grass clippings in place – grass clippings provide shade for the soil.
  • Let the grass grow longer to prevent premature dying – let grass stay longer than normal.
  • Check for leaks – Leaks in hoses, pipes, couplings, or sprinklers is a significant source of wasted water.
  • Invest in a rain barrel – water collected in these barrels can be used for watering flower gardens and, if needed, lawns. 
  • Utilize water-saving technologies – consider rain sensors attached to your irrigation systems. 
  • Change your expectations – allow for temporary discoloration during drought periods. 


Indoor Water Conservation Tips:

  • Fix running/ leaking toilets.
  • Turn off the tap while shaving or brushing your teeth.
  • Take a shower instead of a bath. Low Flow showerheads save more water.
  • Only run full loads of laundry and use correct water level settings.
  • Only run the dishwasher when it’s full.
  • Use water-efficient appliances (look for the WaterSense label).

Learn more

To learn more about conservation tips, current watering guidelines and easy ways to save water in St. Cloud, please visit our water conservation page:

Learn More About Water Conservation
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