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Drought Watch Declared for Four Additional Pennsylvania Counties

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today 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 today’s meeting of members of the Commonwealth’s Drought Task Force.

Currently, 38 counties are under a drought watch declaration that calls for a voluntary 5 percent reduction in non-essential water use. 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.  

“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, 2016, 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 stream flows, 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.
  • 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 by clicking here or visiting DEP’s website, www.dep.pa.gov/drought.