Bloomington officials still consider the city to be in a moderate drought. (WJBC File Photo)
By Paul Morello
BLOOMINGTON - Bloomington-Normal's rainfall total in September was about 3.11 in. above average, but the extra precipitation still wasn't enough to get Bloomington out of moderate drought conditions.
Craig Cummings, Bloomington Water Department director, said Monday the drought designation goes beyond rainfall totals.
"It has to do with soil moisture, reservoir levels, crop conditions, a lot of different things. For instance, over Labor Day weekend, we got over five inches of rain from the remnants of Hurricane Issac, but the soil moisture was really so low that it just soaked that up," he said.
According to the National Weather Service, in Sep. the Twin Cities got 10.35 in. of precipitation. From June 1 through Aug. 1, Bloomington-Normal saw only 7.67 in. of rain.
Cummings said Bloomington's two reservoirs are about 9 feet below average and the city is still asking residents for voluntary water use reductions. The conditions aren't nearly where they were at this time during the 1988 drought.
"I would not doubt at all if we were nineteen or twenty feet down in 1988. So, we have seen quite a difference," he said.
Still, Bloomington officials are planning for the future.
Mayor Steve Stockton stressed the need for a lifetime water supply recently in his state of the county address. Cummings said the city is looking into another well southwest of Fox Creek Elementary School that could provide 3-5 million acre-feet of groundwater.
"We basically have to plan twenty to forty years out, so that we're not caught short when it comes to a large industry, or just an uptick in population," Cummings said.
Paul Morello can be reached at email@example.com.