On Friday, August 21st, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) declared a drought watch for 16 Pennsylvania counties: Armstrong, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Fayette, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, McKean, Mifflin, Perry, and Potter.
Residents of these 16 counties are being asked to reduce their individual water use by 5% to 60 gallons per day, based on a statewide average of 62 gallons per person per day.
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% less water and 40-50% less energy.
- Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.
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 at www.dep.pa.gov/drought.