Drought Conditions Lead to Decreasing Water Qualities


Despite inches of rain in parts of the state, it was not enough to deplete the drought.

Water quality is still a concern when the levels run low, all changing the water cattle drink.

Bruce Schmidt with Burleigh County’s Extension Service says anytime there’s a period of dry and hot conditions…water quality could be affected. In fact, the northwest part of the state has already seen three reports so far this year.

Schmidt says, “They can be severe from death to new born calves to just not gaining the pounds that are needed so it can be all over the board as far as the effect of the water quality can have.” 

If water has experienced problems in the past…they’re likely to repeat in the same areas.

Karl Rockeman, Director of Water Quality, “One of the primary concerns would be any kind of isolated water bodies, whether its wetlands, small water bodies slues, stock ponds, those would be some of the most critical ones to pay attention to.” 

Water quality is starting to be a concern in this drought, especially for cattle and their drinking waters because higher concentrations of sulfates bring the cattle to a potential risk.

“As things dry up, the water in those isolated water bodies it evaporates and any of the dissolved mineral that are in there start to concentrate and can cause higher levels than what you usually see,” says Rockeman. 

For livestock to stay safe, it’s important to keep closer tabs on the water. 

Rockeman says, “You would take a sample of the water from the source and you can have it tested from either one of the private lands in the state or the State Department of Health.”

Once results are back…A quick visit with your vet or local extension agent is all it takes to figure out what the results mean.

“The water quality again is going to come back in so many different ways in affecting that cow herd out there,” says Schmidt. 

Water quality experts say there aren’t any impacts to human drinking water, meaning only livestock water sources are affected.

Besides a drought, Schmidt say when it is hot outside another concern is harmful algae blooms in ponds and small bodies of water. 


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