City of Crookston Public Works Director Pat Kelly, when asked about the effect of this year's drought on well and groundwater levels, echoes a concern shared by others in his profession around these parts: Things seem to be hanging in there pretty good for now, "but if we have another year or two that are anything like this one, I'd have some concerns."
With the city currently pumping around 1 million gallons a day for American Crystal Sugar – which typically happens each fall as the sugar beet campaign gears up – Kelly said it's difficult to get an accurate read on "static levels" in the city's water supply. The pumps don't get a good chance to rest and provide a decent static level reading, he said. But he's confident the city's in decent shape for at least the time being.
"We've been wet for so long, you forget what it's like to be dry like this," Kelly said, adding that when he arrived in Crookston in 1991, the region was nearing the end of a prolonged stretch of dry weather that decreased water levels. "From 1994 and on, though, it's been pretty much wet, wet, wet every year."
Kelly said the popular word among those in positions similar to his in the region is "monitoring." Everyone's monitoring their water levels, he said, and hoping for a return to a less extreme weather cycle. "Everyone's saying they're monitoring, but I think if you saw a second year of this, there would be restrictions put in place," he said. For instance, maybe the city would allow yard watering only on even or odd days, Kelly explained, or maybe would have to nix any watering at all, if conditions demanded such a reaction.