Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
According to the United States Drought Monitor, despite a wetter and cooler summer, all of Oklahoma is still suffering from the effects of drought.
The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
According to the monitor’s status update regarding the state of Oklahoma, drought conditions here range from severe in the eastern and central portions of the state, where rain has been more plentiful this summer, to exceptional drought in parts of far southwestern Oklahoma.
In the Panhandle, conditions are still extreme, according to the latest report.
However, according to Woodward County Emergency Manager, Matt Lehenbauer, Woodward County’s recent rainy August has helped keep the area out of a more severe status.
“One thing we want to really watch is the water table,” Lehenbauer said. “Right now, because of the rains we had in August, the water table is up and we are in pretty good shape. But that can change quickly.”
Despite the slightly improved condition of Woodward, Lehenbauer said areas west and in the Panhandle and rural residents who have wells need to watch carefully for signs their wells are struggling.
“Even I had to lower my pump in the well because I started noticing a lot of sand coming up and that is a sign that the water level is lowering,” he said.
According to Lehenbauer, residents everywhere should always try and not waste water resources, he said.
That means, it helps take the stress off of the water supply if everyone gets in the daily habit of better water management, he said.
Turning the water off during activities like tooth brushing, checking your toilets to make sure they are not running, taking shorter showers and checking to make sure sprinkler systems are not delivering water to the street are all ways to help, he said.
“Things here can change in a matter of weeks, so we all have to watch that water table,” he said.