• 73°

County drought conditions improve

Chilton County has been placed under a moderate drought alert according to the U.S. Drought Monitor as of Thursday.

The current percentage of Alabama counties under the moderate drought alert is 61.6. It is down 40 percent from this time last year where 100 percent of all Alabama counties were under at least a moderate drought. Nearly 50 percent of the counties were categorized as an exceptional drought in June 2007.

Rainfall was averaging around normal at the end of May and early June, but several weeks without rain causes the groundwater table to rapidly decline. Farmers need to be able to sustain livestock and agriculture, but with the weather not cooperating, irrigation and water conservation are now a part of the playbook.

While Chilton County farmers have had at least one sufficient cut of hay, it is not enough given last year’s struggle for rain. Trying to replace last year’s low supply will make for a difficult time to replenish barns this year if the drought lingers.

Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Office of Water Resources has complied the Alabama Drought Plan to assist in the assessment of water management. The impacts of a drought have been divided into five categories: domestic impacts, agricultural impacts, environmental impacts, industrial impacts and recreational impacts. Each of categories list serious implications of a drought related to its category.

However, water assessment seems to be under control at least at the Mitchell Dam. The dam is at normal level for this time of year, and careful conservation during early spring has made other surrounding lakes water levels rise as well.

“We want people to pay close attention to conditions,” Michael Sznajderman, a spokesperson for Alabama Power said. “To say we are out of the drought would be premature.”

Resources for farmers about sustaining their crops and livestock during times of drought are available at the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service at www.attra.ncat.org.