The state climatologist, the Department of Homeland Security and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources are developing guidelines and real-time resources for city and county officials who may have to restrict water usage during a drought emergency.

Tim Hall, hydrology resources coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said the first-ever state “drought plan” would leave decisions about limiting water usage to local officials.

“We’re trying to set up a framework that will help local communities, local water utilities, emergency management folks be prepared to deal with a drought when it comes by answering those questions: ‘What should we do?’ and ‘When should we do it?’ and we can provide the data and the information that helps them make those decisions.”

In July, state officials hosted meetings in Sioux City, Cedar Rapids and Creston to hear from water utilities, local communities, county emergency managers and industries that use water. A final virtual meeting was held Wednesday with about 70 representatives of those groups.

On Thursday, Hall will be issuing a statewide summary of water resources. He said water levels in some areas of northwest Iowa are alarmingly low, but the situation isn’t currently as dire as the last major drought of 2012.

Reporting by O. Kay Henderson for Radio Iowa