A portion of northwest Iowa river has been pumped dry

Via Iowa DNR

Grace Smith | December 20, 2022

A two-mile portion of the Ocheyeden River dried up in September 2022 during extreme drought conditions and an increase in pumping by Osceola County and the Osceola County Rural Water System. This segment which dried up led to many aquatic lives to die. 

“It’s surreal,” said Ed Jones, who owns 90 acres of pasture land that borders the river told the Iowa Capital Dispatch. “There’s no water. There’s no mud. There’s no nothing. It’s just gravel.” Jones, also a supervisor, said that the dry is becoming blatant and worse because a large amount of water from the river is getting pumped by the rural water utility and sold for use in Minnesota. 

An extensive portion of the river has become dry several times in the past seven years because the rural water utility has pumped more water from the ground and sold a quarter of it out of state.

In November, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources asked the Osceola County Rural Water System and Osceola County to develop new plants to prevent the rest of the river from drying up even more. The rural utility draws water from shallow wells near the river and the DNR said those wells directly impact the water levels in the river. The rural water utility declined to comment on the Iowa Capital Dispatch article, so it is unclear what the utility’s plans are.

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