Harrisburg, PA – After a meeting of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today lifted drought watch or warning for 20 counties, returning them to normal status. Three counties remain on drought watch.
Drought watch or warning has been lifted for Bradford, Cameron, Columbia, Cumberland, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Juniata, Lycoming, McKean, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Warren, and Wyoming counties.
Centre and Clearfield counties remain on drought watch. Clinton County is also on drought watch, having improved from drought warning conditions.
“We’re getting close. Recent rainfall brought good news for many counties,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “But three counties have a little ways to go to return to normal conditions. We ask all water consumers on drought watch to remain mindful and continue to reduce their water use a modest amount.”
Consumers on drought watch are asked to reduce their individual water use 510 percent, or three to six gallons of water per day.
DEP has notified water suppliers in Centre, Clearfield, and Clinton counties of the need to monitor their supplies and update their drought contingency plans as necessary. Varying localized conditions may lead water suppliers or municipalities to ask residents for more stringent conservation actions.
Several public water suppliers in these counties are requiring consumers to reduce their water use or requesting voluntary reductions. Suppliers in a few other counties are still asking for voluntary reductions as water levels recover. Find the list at www.dep.pa.gov/drought
There are many ways to reduce water use indoors, including:
• 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 reuse it to water your plants.
• Run the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.
• Repair household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily.
• Sweep your sidewalk, deck, or driveway, rather than hosing it off.
• 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.
DEP makes drought watch, warning, or emergency declaration recommendations based on four numeric 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. DEP also factors in information it receives from public water suppliers.
There are normal ranges for all four indicators, and DEP makes its drought status recommendations after assessing the departures from these normal ranges for all indicators for periods of 3-12 months. Declarations are not based on one indicator alone. For details on indicator monitoring, see this fact sheet: Drought Management in Pennsylvania
DEP shares these data and its recommendations 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 the concurrence of the task force. Drought emergency declarations follow the same process, with final approval by the Governor.
A drought emergency has not been declared for any county.
The next Drought Task Force meeting will be held on Thursday, January 21, 2021.
MEDIA CONTACT: Deb Klenotic, 717-783-9954