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DROUGHT DOUBTS: Preparing For The Worst

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The Army Corp of Engineers is keeping a close eye on the water levels at Saylorville Lake. What they’re seeing has them concerned.

“The lake is over 6 feet below normal and we`re still forecasted to continue to drop,” said Jeff Rose, the operations project manager, “Once we reach that trigger point for 827 feet that`s when we`ll start cutting back.”

Rose says in just 2 weeks, they expect it to drop about another foot, putting the elevation level at an even 829 feet.

“Then every time the lake drops a foot farther we`ll cut back even further to try and maintain that storage,” said Rose.

The Army Corps of Engineers aren’t the only ones watching the drought, and preparing for the future. Mike Hoffman oversees all Dahl's meat departments, and said he is already seeing higher prices. The national average is a 10 to 12 percent increase in beef prices, but Hoffman and his staff have taken steps to ensure the customers don't feel that increase.

“We`re going out there and buying in big quantities, we`re buying truck loads, so we can save the consumer,” said Hoffman “we’re going out and buying ahead two to three weeks out so we can get a better price to pass on to the consumer, so you’ll see that just gradually change.”

But it will change. Hoffman said that come summer, customers will start to notice those higher prices.

“They`re coming, that's the thing,” Hoffman said of the higher prices, “they`re on their way, because everybody is getting rid of their cattle.”

According to Hoffman, at larger grocery chains, like Dahl’s, the price hike will be gradual, but he explained that smaller stores don't have the same opportunities to buy in bulk so some consumers will see a more sudden increase.