After months of record-breaking heat and drought, many rural Americans who rely on wells for water are getting an unwelcome surprise when they turn on their faucets: The tap has run dry.
The lack of water can range from a manageable nuisance to an expensive headache. Well owners are being forced to buy thousands of gallons from private suppliers, to drill deeper or to dig entirely new wells.
Governments and well diggers and water haulers report many more dead wells than in a typical summer across a wide swath of the Midwest, from Nebraska to Indiana and Wisconsin to Missouri.
It's not unusual for wells to stop producing at the end of a long summer. This year, however, some wells ran out in June instead of August or September.