Wednesday, June 17, 2015

DEP Expands Drought Watch From 27 To 37 Counties

The Department of Environmental Protection Wednesday expanded its drought watch declaration from 27 to 37 counties across Pennsylvania.
Despite several recent precipitation events, portions of Pennsylvania continue to have below-average precipitation, below-average groundwater levels, and in some areas, below-average surface water levels.
The 10 additional counties under the drought watch issued today are: Bedford, Blair, Centre, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lehigh, Mifflin, and Northampton.
The 27 counties that remain under drought watch are: Berks, Bradford, Cambria, Carbon, Clinton, Columbia, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, Westmoreland, and Wyoming. These counties were originally put on a drought watch on March 24.
The expanded declaration was recommended following a June 8 meeting of the state's Drought Task Force. The very dry fall and below-normal precipitation from January to May continues to contribute to low groundwater and surface water levels throughout the state.
Many counties, including some under drought watch, have recently had rapid, heavy rain events. These rain events cause erosion and typically do not improve conditions for groundwater and soil moisture.
A drought watch declaration is the first and least-severe level of the state's three drought classifications. It calls for a voluntary five percent reduction in non-essential water use and puts large water consumers on notice to begin planning for the possibility of reduced water supplies.
All Pennsylvanians are advised to heed this drought watch by conserving their water use and consumption. To reduce their water use, residents can:
-- Run water only when absolutely necessary; and avoid keeping water flowing while brushing teeth, or turning on the shower many 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.
DEP will notify all water suppliers in the affected areas of the need to monitor their supplies, particularly those that rely upon groundwater, and update their drought contingency plans as necessary.
DEP also offers water conservation recommendations and water audit procedures for commercial and industrial users, such as food processors, hotels, and educational institutions.
For more information, visit DEP’s Drought Information webpage.

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