There are some local sayings that come from years of observing the patterns and can be treated as good rules of thumb. One that I've heard over the years regarding southeast Missouri's bottomland forests is "as the leaves fall down, the water table begins to move up".
This is accurate on a couple different levels. First of all, during the growing season trees can use a lot of water as they transpire. This transpiration rate of course can vary depending upon the air temperature and availability of water, but overall you can think of trees as functioning as large water pumps during this time. In the fall as the trees go dormant, the pumps are essentially turned off and water is no longer being removed from the water table. Secondly, this region of the state comes off one of driest months of the year in October and usually receives a bump of rain in November, like we are currently experiencing. This increase in precipitation, decreased evaporation due to cooler temperatures, and reduction of "pumping" from the trees contribute to increasing water table and ponding of water across the Mingo Basin that makes this saying true.
The past September and October period was extremely dry. According to the state climatologist, Pat Guinan, it was the driest in 50 years. While this may not have been ideal for some in preparation for the waterfowl season, the contractors working on the wetland renovation work at Duck Creek made the most of the dry conditions. Their goal in moving dirt around focused on taking down cross levees, building up gradual slopes along natural contours, and enhancing the depth of diversity basins and sloughs. When the first rains of November fell, I went out to take a look around. I was pleasantly surprised to see water showing after only an inch and a half of rain. Water had fallen off of the slightly higher ground and filled in and spread out across the shallow basins and depressions across the fields.
Along the periphery of Pool 1 a couple of idle fields have been enhanced to temporarily pond pockets of water and benefit wetland species primarily in the spring. The Grim tract and C Pool have been revamped to work with the natural topography and spread water out within shallow basins and will be incorporated into the waterfowl hunt program again next year. Contractors are still working on clearing brush at the fish ponds, but will be doing similar work as the Grim tract to enhance the habitat there.
With this next deluge of rain, grading work will likely come to a standstill for the season as the leaves have begun to fall down and the water is coming up. Contractors will wait and see if conditions will allow them turn their focus on concrete and bridge work, but it is safe to say the dirt work will be on hold until a future date. Despite this delay I am encouraged to see the rain bring to life the new designs as they begin to hold water and show their potential for next year.