By now, most of us are aware that portions of the nation are experiencing historic drought conditions, particularly in the Southwest and portions of the West. The result: large reservoirs like Lake Mead, which provides water for Arizona, Nevada and California, and Lake Powell, which provides water for Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, are at historic lows, and it appears soon that not all water users will receive their water allotments, causing impacts that will affect us (think crop irrigation). The long-term drought conditions are attributed to climate change.

Recently, it was reported that the lower Mississippi River is also experiencing historic low flows, so low that commercial barge traffic has stopped. This will have a huge impact because of all the cargo transported by these barges, mostly agricultural products. Streams from Coudersport, Pennsylvania to Bozeman, Montana and everywhere in between all flow into the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River drainage is so immense that it would be difficult to isolate climate change as a singular cause, but large portions of the nation are certainly experiencing drought conditions. If rainfall rebounds to normal (hopefully soon), the low river flows could be just a short-term variation of the norm.

Pat Naugle is the vice president and past president of the Watershed Alliance of Adams County (WAAC). To learn more about WAAC, visit or find WAAC on Facebook at Watershed Alliance of Adams County.

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