Public water suppliers in Northern Minnesota watersheds now in drought restrictive phase

Featured photo: Bridge over the Mississippi River near Bemidji showing low water levels.

Three major northern Minnesota watersheds are now in a drought restrictive phase.

According to the DNR, the Mississippi River Headwaters, the Rainy River, and the Red River watersheds are experiencing extreme to exceptional drought.

Further restrictions on water use are anticipated in these areas, with public water suppliers notified to reduce water use to 25 percent above January levels. The drought warning phase implemented last month reduced water to 50 percent above January’s use.

Bemidji recently amended its water restrictions to allow lawn watering two days a week, after water usage city-wide met the DNR’s parameters for the drought warning phase.

Assistant City Engineer Sam Anderson said the city has plans in place to further restrict water usage if needed, with formal measures to respond to the DNR’s latest drought phase expected soon.

More than half of Beltrami County is in an exceptional drought, the first time any part of the state has been in such a state of drought since analysis began in the late 90s.

The Star Tribune reported Wednesday that this drought may be as excessive as the drought of 1988 or the droughts of the Dust Bowl era.

Listen to the full interview with Assistant City Engineer Sam Anderson:

City staffers say the current water restrictions remain in effect, with further discussions on the next steps anticipated Monday when City Engineer Craig Gray returns.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University.


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