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Local News

DEP Issues Drought Watch for 36 Pennsylvania Counties

DEP drought map (Screen Capture)

by Cassie Miller, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
August 31, 2022

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a drought warning for 36 of the commonwealth’s 67 counties on Wednesday, asking residents to conserve water as much as possible. 

“A few counties have experienced very dry conditions over the summer, and a number of others have inched into increasingly dry conditions in recent weeks,” acting DEP Secretary Ramez Ziadeh said in a statement. “We’re asking Pennsylvanians in all of these counties to use water wisely and follow simple water conservation tips to ease the demand for water.”

The drought watch is in effect for Berks, Bucks, Bradford, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Dauphin, Delaware, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, and Wyoming counties, where state officials and water suppliers are asking residents to reduce their water usage by 5 to 10 percent, or a reduction of three to six gallons of water per day. 

In a statement, the department offered tips for reducing 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.“Run the dishwasher and washing machine less often, and only with full loads.“Water your garden in the cooler evening or morning hours, and direct the water to the ground at the base of the plant, so you don’t waste water through evaporation.“Water your lawn only if necessary. Apply no more than 1 inch of water per week (use an empty can to determine how long it takes to water 1 inch). Avoid watering on windy and hot days. This pattern will encourage healthier, deeper grassroots. Over-watering is wasteful, encourages fungal growth and disease, and results in shallow, compacted root systems that are more susceptible to drought.“When mowing your lawn, set the blades to 2-3 inches high. Longer grass shades the soil, improving moisture retention. It also grows thicker and develops a deeper root system, so it can better survive drought.“Check for and repair household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily.“Sweep your sidewalk, deck, or driveway instead of 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,” and“Set up a rain barrel to be ready to repurpose rain when it does fall,” the agency said in its statement.

The drought watch for three-dozen Pennsylvania counties comes as 39.3 percent of the U.S. is currently under drought conditions, according to federal data. Other states, such as Mississippi and Kentucky have experienced extreme flooding conditions over the last month. 

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

Cassie Miller writes for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared.