Following a meeting of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force Tuesday, the Department of Environmental Protection announced two counties remain in drought warning status, six improve from warning to watch status, and 11 improve from watch to normal status.
The current status of these counties is--
-- Drought warning: Mifflin and Union Counties remain in drought warning status. DEP encourages a voluntary water use reduction of 10–15 percent.
-- Drought watch: Six counties moved from drought warning to drought watch: Carbon, Juniata, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, and Snyder. Fifteen other counties remain on watch: Berks, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, and Schuylkill. DEP encourages a voluntary water use reduction of 5 percent.
-- Normal: Eleven counties—Adams, Bedford, Clinton, Fulton, Huntingdon, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Pike, Wayne, Sullivan, and York—moved from drought watch to normal status, joining the rest of the state.
Although drought watch and warning declarations in winter aren’t common, they have occurred several times in the past decade, in 2011, 2010, and 2008.
DEP bases its declarations on four indicators: precipitation deficits (averaged from numerous gauges), stream flows, groundwater levels, and soil moisture.
Public water systems in affected counties 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.These recommendations and additional drought monitoring information are available on the DEP Drought Information website.