Drought Disrupts Everyday Tasks In Rural Midwest

WILDWOOD, Mo. — The wells supplying people’s homes are running dry here at the heart of the nation’s drought, which the government announced on Thursday has spread to 63.2 percent of the country, centered in the parched earth of the southern Midwest.

For some residents outside municipal water districts, it has become a struggle to wash dishes, or fill a coffee urn, even to flush the toilet. Mike Kraus, a cattle farmer in Garden City, Kan., twisted the tap on the shower the other day after work and heard nothing but hissing.

“And that was it,” he said.

While there are no national statistics on the rate at which residential wells are drying, drilling companies and officials in states across the Midwest have said that hundreds of people who rely on wells have complained of their pipes emitting water that goes from milky to spotty to nothing. An estimated 13.2 million households nationwide use private wells.

From the middle of June through the end of July, 100 to 150 people have contacted Indiana state officials complaining that their wells had either failed or were running dangerously low, said Mark Basch, head of water rights and use section of the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

Danny Flynn, the owner of the Flynn Drilling Company in Troy, Mo., said he had received hundreds of calls from people with well problems. Bruce Moss, a co-owner of Moss Well Drilling in central Indiana, said business has spiked 25 percent this summer. In the past two weeks, CLT Well Service in southwest Kansas has gotten four calls for residential wells that had gone completely dry, said Clint Tyler, the owner. Usually, they get about one such call a year, he said.

“It’s just crazy right now,” Mr. Tyler said. “We’ve never been this far behind.”


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