For the first time Thursday (7/12), "exceptional" drought, the worst category, has appeared over part of the Arkansas River Valley.
People there however, claim they didn't need this classification to know, it's bad. They said look at the bottom of a well in Van Buren County, where the real problem has been evident for months.
For many, like in the exceptional drought area of Van Buren County, it's getting to where they have to ration how they get water out of the ground.
Gazing to the tree tops, well-sounder and property owner, Robert Reed, points out just one of the casualties of low soil moisture.
He has two hundred year old oak trees dying in the middle of a pasture.
Pulling back the opening to a century old well you get an idea of just how bad it is here.
Peering over the edge, you can see water but it's nowhere near where it should be.
For the first time ever one of Reed's wells can't produce. Water is too low.
"That can be a huge difference on keeping your garden alive or keeping water in your house," Reed said.
Weather experts can factor in dozens of data elements to classify an area as exceptional drought.
Reed's process is a bit more straightforward.
He said, "A simple science experiment that is extremely accurate."
Reed uses a fishing, line, weight and bobber and runs it all the way down to the bottom of the well.
"We're actually looking at real-world today, how much water have you got available," Reed said.
Reed's sounding method shows exactly what conditions, especially long term, we may face.
It also answers a very important question: When does it become economical to try to get water?
Reed said it will likely get worse there before it gets better.
Because while there may be water in our lakes or reservoir tanks, the lack of water in Reed's pond, and 300 foot well, actually show how much water there is; or in Reed's case, isn't.
Most experts say, we would need months of above average rain to see any kind of recovery.
"We may have enough water today but if you see what we see on a daily basis... we ran out of water a month ago."