Berks County remains in Drought Watch, voluntary water conservation recommended

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced Friday after a meeting of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force that Drought Watch will continue for 19 counties with York County moved to Drought Warning.

Adams, Berks, Bucks, Cameron, Chester, Clarion, Cumberland, Dauphin, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, and Venango counties remain on drought watch. York County will be moved to Drought Warning to support the efforts of water suppliers and their customers to conserve water.

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Residents on drought watch are asked to reduce their individual water use by 5 to 10%, or a reduction of three to six gallons of water per day. Residents on drought warning are asked to reduce their individual water use by 10 to 15%, or a reduction of six to nine gallons of water per day.

9-22-2023 County Drought Status Map

Varying localized conditions may lead water suppliers or municipalities to ask residents for more stringent conservation actions. See the list of public water suppliers that have requested or mandated water conservation in their communities.

Ways to Conserve Water at Home

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There are many ways to conserve water at home, including: Run the dishwasher and washing machine less often, and only with full loads. Shorten the time you let the water run to warm up before showering and take shorter showers. The shower and toilet are the two biggest indoor water guzzlers. Check for and repair household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily.

Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets. Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30% less water and 40-50% less energy.

How DEP Determines Drought Conditions

DEP assesses four indicators from data and information provided by public water suppliers: precipitation, surface water (stream and river) flow, groundwater level, and soil moisture.

The DEP Drought Coordinator monitors the indicators in close partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which maintains gauges in streams and wells in many locations across Pennsylvania.

There are normal ranges for all four indicators. DEP makes drought status recommendations after assessing departures from these ranges for all indicators for periods of 3-12 months. See the USGS Pennsylvania drought condition monitoring website for a map that’s updated daily to show the status of all four indicators for each county.

DEP shares these data and its recommendations with the state and federal agencies and other organizations that make up the Commonwealth Drought Task Force. Declarations are determined by DEP, with the concurrence of the task force.

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