This month is on pace to be the driest April in central Wisconsin records, and a recent rash of grass fires isn't the only manifestation of the drought.
Still reeling from low winter water levels that contributed to an estimated 80 percent fish kill, the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir remains 5 feet below full. The goal is to have the 18-mile body of water topped off by the end of April, said Sam Morgan, director of Wisconsin Valley Improvement Co., which operates the dams on the Wisconsin River and its tributaries. Prospects for meeting that goal are bleak.
The dry month also has led to low water on the Wisconsin River, which could mean the Big Eau Pleine's dam will be opened earlier than normal to maintain federally mandated minimum flows on the Wisconsin, drawing the reservoir down even more.