Times Chronicle & Public Spirit
Pa. drought watch remains for 5 counties in region despite recent rainfall
Request for voluntary water conservation also stands
Despite recent rainfall, 36 counties — including Berks, Delaware, Lehigh, Montgomery and Schuylkill — remain under a drought watch and a request for voluntary water conservation, according to state Department of Environmental Protection.
“Conditions have improved with the recent rain, but we need to see continued meaningful precipitation over several months and have public water suppliers in affected counties returning to normal operations before the drought watch can be lifted,” DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh said in a release. “We ask Pennsylvanians in these counties to continue to use water wisely and follow simple water conservation tips to ease the demand for water.”
According to the National Weather Service, 3.67 inches of rainfall has been recorded in Reading so far in September, compared to the normal of 2.11 for the month.
The AccuWeather forecast shows nearly no chance of rain through Sunday, with the temperature gradually warming from a high of 75 Thursday to a high of 86 Sunday.
In addition to the five counties in the region, the following remain under the drought watch and water conservation request: Bucks, Bradford, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Dauphin, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lebanon, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne and Wyoming.
Residents under a drought watch are asked to reduce their individual water use by 5% to 10%, or by three to six gallons per day.
Conserving at home
The department offered the following tips to conserve household water usage:
• 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 grass roots. Overwatering 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% less water and 40% to 50% less energy.
• Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.
• Set up a rain barrel to be ready to repurpose rain when it does fall.