Description and effects of 1988 drought on ground-water levels, streamflow, and reservoir levels in Indiana

Water-Resources Investigations Report 91-4100




Documentation of the 1988 drought in Indiana was undertaken to aid water-management agencies and planners concerned with periods of below-normal precipitation and their effect on commercial, agricultural, and residential water use. Precipitation, temperature, Palmer Drought Severity Indices, and ground- and surface-water levels from water years 1988 and 1989 were compared to the historical record to evaluate severity, extent, and duration of the 1988 drought in Indiana.

Three types of drought-climatological, hydrologic, and agricultural--occurred in most of Indiana during water years 1988 and 1989. The drought began toward the end of calendar year 1987 as annual precipitation decreased to 4.6 inches below the long term mean. By the end of September 1988, statewide precipitation deficits had increased to almost 8 inches below normal. High temperatures during the summer months increased the stress on crops, livestock, and people. Northwest Indiana experienced the second warmest June-August on record. Palmer Drought Severity Indices indicated that a moderate-to-severe drought had occurred in Indiana during most of 1988.

Ground-water levels were affected substantially in many areas of the State. Record low-water levels were observed at 12 of the 20 monitoring wells included in this report. A go-day ground-water emergency was declared in parts of northwestern Indiana. Streamflow throughout the State was affected to varying degrees by the drought. Annual mean discharge in some rivers was only slightly less than the mean annual discharge, while others flowed at less than half that value. The effects of low streamflows were felt by many as electric power plants reduced or ceased production and public-water utilities requested conservation measures by their customers. Major reservoirs in the State approached or reached record low levels, causing water supplies as well as recreational activities to be diminished.

Most major crops produced in Indiana were affected by the dry conditions. Average yields in 1988 ranged from 50 to 86 percent of 1987 yields.

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USGS Numbered Series
Description and effects of 1988 drought on ground-water levels, streamflow, and reservoir levels in Indiana
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
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Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Indianapolis, IN
Contributing office(s):
Indiana Water Science Center
vi, 91 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.
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United States
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