Dry Spell Alert: Pennsylvania Imposes Statewide Drought Watch to Safeguard Water Resources

Canal on the Delaware River in Bucks County. The river bed is dry due to the 2017 summer drought. (Photo: Shutterstock)

By Ashley Adams

June 16, 2023

A drought watch is in effect statewide; residents and businesses are urged to conserve their water use by 5 to 10%.

Following a mild winter with little snowfall, and a lack of rainfall this spring, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has declared a statewide drought watch.

While not required, residents and businesses are encouraged to voluntarily reduce their nonessential water use by 5 to 10%.

“We’re seeing lowered stream flows, dropping groundwater levels, and persistent precipitation deficits,” DEP Acting Secretary Rich Negrin said. “Water conservation, always a good practice, is especially helpful now as it’ll lessen potential future impacts on water supplies if rainfall continues to be scant this summer.”

Here are some tips to conserve water at home:

  • Run the dishwasher and washing machine less often, and only with full loads.
  • Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. 
  • Take shorter showers. 
  • Water your lawn only if necessary. 
  • When mowing your lawn, set the blades 2-3 inches high. Longer grass shades the soil, improving moisture retention. 
  • Water your garden less often. 
  • Skip the car washing. 
  • Sweep your sidewalk, deck, or driveway, instead of hosing it off.
  • Check for and repair household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily. 

The state Department of Agriculture is also encouraging farmers to plan to help protect their viability.

“Risks and volatility in farming are weather-related more than in any other business,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “It’s critical for farmers, orchard owners and other producers to keep track of losses, and take advantage of federal crop insurance to help recoup those losses and state conservation funding and business planning grants to protect their soil, diversify their operations, and cushion against future weather-related losses. Planning cannot change the weather, but it can help farm businesses manage the risks that come with it.”

And finally, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources urges all residents to be aware of increased fire risk due to the dry conditions.

Low precipitation has increased the number of wildfires in the commonwealth this year. There have been 1,400 wildfires reported statewide so far in 2023, compared to 1,036 in all of 2022. This year’s wildfires have burned more than 8,500 acres, compared to 2,700 acres in 2022.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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