A state official said it's time for Minnesota homeowners to stop watering their lawns and for farmers to stop irrigating, due to intensifying drought.

In encouraging increased water conservation statewide, Dave Leuthe, deputy director of the DNR's Ecological and Water Resources division, said lawn watering is a "non-essential" use and should be curtailed. 

With many regions of Minnesota having missed the equivalent of two months of summer rains and with rivers and lakes running near historic low levels, the DNR has suspended 50 permits for surface water use by businesses, golf courses and parks departments across the state in recent weeks.

Most of those entities have backup water sources, such as groundwater, and in some cases the DNR permits themselves were for backup plans.

No one has been put out of work because of the suspensions, Leuthe said. 

Today's U.S. Drought Monitor weekly update showed half the state in extreme or severe drought, with the southwest and northwest corners hit the worst. State climatologist Greg Spoden said soils well below the ground in many places are "dust."