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DEP Declares Drought Watch For 16 Northcentral, Western PA Counties; First Since 2016-17
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After a meeting of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force on August 21, the Department of Environmental Protection declared a drought watch for 16 counties: Armstrong, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Fayette, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, McKean, Mifflin, Perry, and Potter.

Residents are asked to reduce their individual water use 5 percent to 60 gallons per day, based on a statewide average of 62 gallons per person per day.

DEP last declared drought conditions in August of 2016 which remained in place until May 2017.

DEP is now in the process of updating the State Water Plan which looks at water availability issues across the state.  Read more here.

“We’re asking residents in these 16 counties to use water wisely and follow simple water conservation tips to ease the demand for water,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

DEP recommends the following ways to reduce water use:

-- Run water only when necessary. Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. -- Shorten the time you let the water run to warm up before showering. 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.

-- When watering your garden, be efficient and effective: Water in the evening or morning, and direct the water to the ground at the base of the plant, so you don’t waste water through evaporation.

-- Check for household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily.

-- Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40-50 percent less energy.

-- Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.

Varying localized conditions during a drought watch may lead individual water suppliers or municipalities to request more stringent conservation actions by residents.

DEP is notifying all water suppliers in these counties of the need to monitor their supplies and be prepared by updating their drought contingency plans as necessary.

Some public water systems have already begun voluntary and mandatory water restrictions to preserve their drinking water supplies.

DEP makes drought watch, warning, or emergency declaration recommendations based on four indicators.

The agency gets stream flow and groundwater level data from a statewide network of gauges maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey. In addition, DEP monitors precipitation and soil moisture and gets information from public water suppliers.

DEP shares these data with other state and federal agency personnel who make up the Commonwealth Drought Task Force. Drought watch and warning declarations are determined by DEP, with support of the task force.

Drought emergency declarations follow a similar process, with final approval by the Governor.

Find more detailed information, visit DEP’s Drought Declaration Status webpage.  Questions should be directed to Kristina Peacock-Jones, P.E., Commonwealth Drought Coordinator, 717-772-4048  or send email to:  droughtinfo@pa.gov.

Related Article:

DEP Starts Next Round Of Virtual River Basin Committee Meetings On State Water Plan Update

[Posted: August 21, 2020]


8/24/2020

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