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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In Pennsylvania

Drought Watch Declared for 16 Pennsylvania Counties

Wednesday, September 9, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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Harrisburg, PA – On August 21, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) declared a drought watch for 16 western and central Pennsylvania counties: Armstrong, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Fayette, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, McKean, Mifflin, Perry, and Potter.

A drought watch is the lowest level of drought response action which can be declared by DEP. Under a drought watch, residents are asked to reduce their individual water use 5 percent to 60 gallons per day, based on a statewide average of 62 gallons per person per day.

No Immediate Impact on Businesses

While there is no immediate impact on business or industrial water uses, business and industrial water users are encouraged to look for ways to conserve water voluntarily.

Three Levels of Drought Condition

DEP has the authority to declare three levels of drought condition: drought watch, drought warning and drought emergency, based upon the severity of drought conditions. Each level increases the amount of water conservation required by the public, businesses, and industrial users. Declarations are typically done on a county-by-county basis.

Municipalities May Impose More Strict Conservation Measures

Varying localized conditions during a drought watch may lead individual water suppliers or municipalities to request more stringent conservation actions by residents. DEP is notifying all water suppliers in these counties of the need to monitor their supplies and be prepared by updating their drought contingency plans as necessary. Some public water systems have already begun voluntary and mandatory water restrictions to preserve their drinking water supplies.

How Does DEP Determine Drought Conditions?

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 (USGS). In addition, DEP monitors precipitation and soil moisture and gets information from public water suppliers. You may access the USGS interactive drought map by clicking here.

Find more detailed information at

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