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Shallow Minn. wells drying up as Midwest drought drags on

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Even in the land of 10,000 lakes, the ongoing drought across nearly all of Minnesota has caused some shallow wells to tap out, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

“The shallow wells really don’t get their water from an underground aquifer like deep wells do. They depend mostly on surface water to recharge,” Michael Convery, a hydrologist with the Minnesota Department of Health, told the newspaper. “And a lot of them just aren’t recharging when it’s this dry. It’s not just in your area but several places across the state, people who depend on dug wells are finding problems.’’

Shallower wells were a popular, less-expensive option in the 20th century, but they're now prohibited for new construction under state building codes because they aren't as dependable as deeper wells.

Residents in southern and southwestern parts of Minnesota are also feeling the harsh reality of an ongoing drought hampering the Midwest as private wells have run dry as aquifers continue to shrink.

According to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor released last week, 25 percent of the state, mostly southwestern Minnesota, is in “extreme” drought.

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Nearly the entire state was in a moderate to severe drought, but three months later that's down to about 10 percent. A climatologist told the Associated Press rain has recharged dry soils, but above-average precipitation needs to continue for Minnesota to fully catch up.