The Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday issued a drought watch declaration for four more Pennsylvania counties – Chester, Cumberland, Delaware and Philadelphia – due to low stream flows, declining groundwater levels and lack of precipitation.
The declaration, which brings the number of counties under drought watch to 38 – was made following Tuesday’s meeting of members of the Commonwealth’s Drought Task Force.
All the counties now in the drought watch include: Armstrong Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Elk, Forest, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, and Venango.
The 38 counties under a drought watch declaration are being asked to voluntarily reduce non-essential water use by 5 percent.
One county, Potter, remains in a drought warning. Citizens in that county are encouraged to voluntarily reduce their water use between 10 to 15 percent.
Eight public water systems have instituted voluntary and mandatory water restrictions. They include:
-- Albion Borough Water System, Erie County;
-- Bedford Borough Water Authority, Bedford County;
-- Dubois Water Department, Clearfield County;
-- Galeton Borough Water Authority, Potter County;
-- Huntingdon Borough Water Department, Huntingdon Count;
-- Petersburg Borough Water System, Huntingdon County;
-- Shinglehouse Borough Water Department, Potter County; and
-- Wellsboro Municipal Authority, Tioga County.
“Below-normal precipitation across most of the state has resulted in instantaneous stream flows declining in the central and eastern part of the state,” DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. “We’re asking residents to continue to conserve water in order to preserve adequate drinking water supplies.”
On August 11, DEP notified all water suppliers in the affected counties of the need to monitor their supplies and update their drought contingency plans as necessary. In addition to precipitation, groundwater levels and streamflows, state officials also monitor soil moisture and water supply storage.
DEP recommends the following ways to reduce water use:
-- Run water only when necessary;
-- Avoid running the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving, or letting the shower run for several minutes before use;
-- Check for household leaks. A leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day!
-- Run dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads;
-- Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40 to 50 percent less energy; and
-- Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.
For more information on water saving recommendations and drought conditions in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s Drought Information webpage.Also visit the U.S. Geologic Survey’s Pennsylvania Drought Monitoring webpage for details on ground and surface water conditions, precipitation shortfalls and soil moisture.