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Coping with Drought

Updated: Apr 9

Coping with Drought: Actions to Safeguard Your Lake and Preserve Water Resources

Learn how to safeguard lakes during droughts with water conservation methods & proactive strategies. Preserve water for future generations.


Drought is a natural event that can result in severe water scarcity, impacting existing water sources like lakes and ponds. Water scarcity can lead to a significant decline in water quality, biodiversity, and the sustenance of plant, animal, and human life, as the absence of adequate water disrupts lifestyle. This blog discusses the impact of drought on lakes, lake weeds, strategies for managing drought, and methods for effectively protecting and preserving lakes.

How Does Drought Affect Lakes, Ponds, & Lake Weeds?

Lakes, ponds, rivers, and other water bodies can experience droughts in times of limited precipitation. This can harm their ecosystems and cause stress for animals, vegetation, and people who depend on them. The question of their continuity and existence is further exacerbated as the effects of drought continue and other resources are inclined to decrease gradually.

In periods of prolonged dry weather, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs have less water, exposing more of the shoreline that is usually underwater. In addition to this, there may be a significant change in water quality. Too much abstraction leads to higher pollution levels in water, more algae growth, lower oxygen levels, and harms aquatic plants and animals.

During a drought, the water cycle also impacts groundwater recharge and decreases overall water supply. When water sources decrease, the demand for water availability increases, which results in more water resource waste.

How Does Drought Affect Lake Weeds & Shoreline?

With an increase in shoreline exposure due to drought there may be new species of shoreline vegetation that take advantage of the waterless surface and grow out of the exposed lake bottom. In many cases, you can expect to see more weeds growing on the shoreline that are commonly found in the sand, rocks, or whatever lakeshore barrier you have in place.

In drought situations there may also be an increase in lake weeds in areas of the lake that commonly see less weed growth. As the water depth is reduced, the thermocline moves out further into the lake and can correlate to more lake weeds in areas stretching out towards the middle of the lake.

What Can We Do to Help Protect Lakes From Droughts?

To keep our lakes healthy during shortages, we need a proactive and comprehensive plan. 

Water Conservation Efforts: Commencing and following water conservation methods should be obligatory. This means using less water in industry, homes, and farms by using water-saving appliances, landscaping, and efficient irrigation.


Improving water infrastructure involves funding for installing and developing water systems, improving storage, implementing water recycling, and fixing leaks. This will help reduce water loss by using resources efficiently.


Drought Monitoring and Early Warning Systems: A vigorous drought monitoring and early warning system will help with planning and decision-making. This proactive approach will lead to less damage and a reduced drought effect on lakes as individuals and organizations can forecast potential drought seasons and implement drought suppression strategies ahead of time.


Sustainable water management includes collecting rainwater, recharging groundwater, and protecting watersheds. These methods help maintain and replenish water sources during dry seasons.

Different Stages of Drought

It is important to recognize that the effects of drought can occur in different stages, each requiring specific actions and responses:

  • Abnormally Dry: During the first stage, introducing water conservation measures and educational initiatives to the community can help elevate the level of public consciousness about the issues and prepare them to face possible dryness.

  • Moderate Drought: When drought becomes more severe, authorities might require citizens to use water very cautiously, i.e., on a voluntary or mandatory basis, and may restrict the use of excess water for things like greenery or car washes.

  • Severe Drought: In severe situations, strict water regulations may be necessary. These restrictions would involve setting limits on water usage according to necessity. Additionally, there would be careful monitoring to protect vital water resources.

  • Exceptional Drought: During a severe water shortage, extreme actions may be needed. These actions could include importing water or implementing a recycling program. These measures are necessary to address the critical situation.

Common Water Conservation Methods that Help Protect Lakes and Water Bodies

Protecting and preserving local water bodies during droughts requires a combination of traditional and innovative water conservation methods:

  • Constructing Reservoirs and Dams: The construction of reservoirs and dams help to collect and store water during periods of precipitation, allowing for additional water to be available in dry seasons.

  • Groundwater Recharge: Developing practices like artificial recharge basins, injection wells, and infiltration gulleys can substantially supplement aquifers with sustainable water resources.

  • Rainwater Harvesting: Rainwater may be stored and retrieved from rooftops, paved surfaces, and other locations to serve as an option that can be used for non-potable purposes like irrigation and laundry. This can help relieve the burden of other options for water resources.

  • Wetland Restoration and Conservation: Saving and rejuvenating the wetlands can contribute to reducing the drought effect by functioning as natural water storages and filters and thus also giving rise to biodiversity.


The integration of these water conservation strategies into local water management plans can contribute both to drought mitigation and drought prevention over long periods.



Monitor Water Lake Levels

Observe and track the fluctuation of water levels in the lake to determine the severity of the drought and initiate the appropriate actions.

Implement Water Conservation Measures

Work towards water conservation by limiting or reducing irrigation, fixing water supply pipe leaks, and educating residents about water conservation practices.

Enhance Watershed Protection

Protect and repair the source of the watershed that surrounds the lake so that it will not be vulnerable to erosion, sedimentation, and pollution during the lack of water.

Adopt Sustainable Land Use Practices

Advocate the use of land sustainably through means like preventing fresh-water runoff, retaining natural vegetation cover, and controlling soil erosion.

Collaborate with Stakeholders

Local communities, government bodies, business organizations, and other partners set together the drought management strategies and further implement them.

These plans address the reduction of water in lakes and other bodies of water, and outline actions needed for water conservation during a drought. They serve as a guide for managing sources of water in times of water scarcity. With these actions in place, the water in our lakes, ponds, rivers, and other water bodies will be sustainable for future generations.


The issue of drought and water shortage has become more significant in the last few years here in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and across the United States; thus, it is necessary to focus on water conservation measures, implement sound water management approaches, and bolster the water infrastructure.


One practical way to help is to simply reduce your water footprint and utilize new technologies to save water. An example of this is running your washing machine on "quick wash" instead of a tradtitional wash. For most models the "quick wash cycle" uses less water than a standard wash cycle or the "smart wash" feature. The aim is to lessen the impact of the drought on lakes and water bodies to make sure that these crucial resources are protected for the next generations.

Remember, water is limited. We must save it, not just in normal times but especially during drought conditions. We all need to do our part to conserve water and minimize our water footprint. We can withstand droughts and ensure water security by working together and being mindful of water usage. This will benefit future generations and the environment here in Minnesota and across America.

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