The Department of Environmental Protection Friday announced it has placed four more counties in drought warning status following a meeting of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force.
Mifflin, Juniata, Snyder, and Union counties join Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, and Northampton counties put in drought warning on November 3.
While recent precipitation over the past few weeks has helped dry conditions in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, the central part of the state still has persistent 90-day precipitation deficits of up to 4 inches from normal as well as low groundwater and stream levels.
Snyder has a precipitation deficit of 11 inches from normal over the past year.
DEP encourages residents in these counties to voluntarily reduce their water use by 10–15 percent.
Counties on drought watch are Adams, Bedford, Berks, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Clinton, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Luzerne, Montgomery, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Wayne, and York Counties.
Residents are encouraged to reduce their nonessential water use by 5 percent.
Conditions in Western Pennsylvania and along the northern tier generally have remained at normal or above normal levels.
Public water systems continue to implement voluntary and mandatory water reductions in response to reduced supplies.
DEP suggests several steps citizens can take to voluntarily reduce their water use:
-- Run water only when necessary. Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. Shorten the amount of time you let the water run to warm up before you shower. Use a bucket to catch the water and then reuse it to water your plants.
-- Run the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.
-- Check for household leaks. A leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day.
-- Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40 to 50 percent less energy.
-- Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.
DEP also offers other water conservation recommendations and water audit procedures for commercial and industrial users, such as food processors, hotels and educational institutions.
Drought watch and warning declarations in late fall/early winter, while not common, have occurred several times in the past decade, in 2011, 2010, and 2008.
The Drought Task Force will meet next on January 5, 2017.For more information and conservation tips, visit DEP’s Drought Status webpage.