Pennsylvania DEP Announces Changes in Drought Status for 21 Counties

autumn rain© july7th / Getty Images / Canva

PENNSYLVANIA — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) made a significant announcement about the state’s drought conditions. Following a meeting of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force on Friday, the DEP reported that six counties will return to normal conditions, while 15 counties remain under drought watch or warning.

Berks, Chester, Clarion, Fayette, Lehigh, and Venango counties have had their drought watch status lifted, signifying an improvement in their water conditions. However, Adams, Bucks, Cameron, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery, Northampton, and Perry counties remain on drought watch.

Clinton County will revert to drought watch status. The Lock Haven City Authority and Suburban Lock Haven Water Authority in Clinton County are currently encountering supply issues and have requested customers to reduce their water usage where possible.

York County remains under drought warning to assist the efforts of water suppliers and their customers in conserving water. This is the most severe level of drought status, indicating prolonged dry conditions.

The DEP noted that despite several public water suppliers implementing voluntary or mandatory water conservation measures, there are still lingering year-to-date precipitation deficits. Additionally, some groundwater wells have not fully recovered, contributing to the ongoing drought conditions.

Residents in counties under drought watch are encouraged to decrease their individual water use by 5 to 10 percent, equivalent to a reduction of three to six gallons of water per day. Those living in areas under drought warning are asked to cut their individual water use by 10 to 15 percent, which translates to a reduction of six to nine gallons of water daily.

READ:  Public Hearing Set for Reworld Plymouth Waste-to-Energy Facility Permit Renewal

Local conditions may lead water suppliers or municipalities to request more stringent conservation actions from residents. Multiple public water suppliers have already requested or mandated water conservation in their communities.

The DEP also shared tips for conserving water at home, including running the dishwasher and washing machine less often and only with full loads, taking shorter showers, checking for and repairing household leaks, installing low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets, and replacing older appliances with high-efficiency models.

The DEP determines drought conditions by assessing information from public water suppliers and data on four indicators: precipitation, surface water flow, groundwater level, and soil moisture. The department works closely with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which maintains gauges in streams and wells across Pennsylvania, to monitor these indicators.

There are standard ranges for all four indicators, and the DEP makes drought status recommendations after assessing departures from these ranges over periods of 3-12 months. The DEP shares these data and its recommendations with state and federal agencies and other organizations that comprise the Commonwealth Drought Task Force. Drought declarations are determined by the DEP, with the agreement of the task force.

This announcement underscores the importance of water conservation efforts in Pennsylvania, particularly in areas still affected by drought conditions. The DEP’s monitoring and management of drought conditions aim to ensure adequate water supply and promote responsible water usage across the Commonwealth.

For the latest news on everything happening in Chester County and the surrounding area, be sure to follow MyChesCo on Google News and Microsoft Start.