The USGS Pennsylvania Water Science Center today reported 19 counties are now in a drought watch condition, according to the Palmer Drought Severity Index.
The counties include: Bedford, Blair, Bradford, Cambria, Columbia, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union and Wyoming.
There are three levels of drought conditions declared by the Department of Environmental Protection using the Palmer Index--
Drought Watch: A period to alert government agencies, public water suppliers, water users and the public regarding the onset of conditions indicating the potential for future drought-related problems. The focus during this stage is on increased monitoring, awareness and preparation for response if conditions worsen.
During a drought watch, a request is made for voluntary water conserva- tion to reduce water uses by 5 period in the affected areas. Because of varying conditions, individual water suppliers or municipalities are allowed to request more stringent conservation actions, with the coordination of the state.
Drought Warning: During a drought warning, preparations for a coordinated response to imminent drought conditions and potential water supply shortages are intensified. Also, requests for voluntary water conservation measures are made with the goal of reducing overall water uses by 15 percent in the affected areas.
Drought Emergency: The drought emergency stage is a concentrated management phase of operations to utilize all available resources to respond to actual emergency conditions, to avoid depletion of water sources, to assure at least minimum water supplies to protect public health and safety, to support essential and high priority water uses, and to avoid unnecessary economic dislocations.
It is possible during this phase to impose mandatory restrictions on nonessential water uses, if deemed necessary and if ordered by the governor of Pennsylvania.
There are three counties which show groundwater levels at the drought emergency level: Schuylkill, Sullivan and Wyoming. There are seven counties with groundwater levels at the drought warning level: Bradford, Fayette, Lackawanna, Monroe, Pike, Somerset and Susquehanna.
According to the USGS, there are six counties which show surface water levels at the drought warning level: Bradford, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Montour and Northumberland.
Drought-related fact sheets, regulations, water conservation tips and guidelines are available at the DEP Drought Publications webpage.
For current drought conditions, visit the USGS Pennsylvania Water Science Center webpage.