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Drought Watch Expands to 18 Counties; Potter Under Warning
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 09/11/2020

After a meeting of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Thursday moved Potter County to drought warning status and added three counties -- Elk, Lycoming, and Tioga -- to drought watch. There are now 18 counties on drought watch Armstrong, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Fayette, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Lycoming, McKean, Mifflin, Perry, and Tioga.

Residents on drought watch are asked to reduce their individual water use 5-10 percent, based on a statewide average of 62 gallons per person per day. This means a reduction of three to six gallons of water per day.

Potter County residents are asked to reduce their individual water use 10-15 percent, or by six to nine gallons a day.

"We're asking residents in these counties to use water wisely and follow simple water conservation tips to ease the demand for water," said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

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. Varying localized conditions may lead water suppliers or municipalities to ask residents for more stringent conservation actions by residents. Sixteen water suppliers in these counties have begun asking or requiring residents to reduce their water use.

DEP makes drought watch, warning, or emergency declaration recommendations based on four numeric indicators. The agency gets stream flow and groundwater level data from a statewide network of gauges maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey. In addition, DEP monitors precipitation and soil moisture. DEP also factors in information it receives from public water suppliers.

There are normal ranges for all four indicators, and DEP makes its drought declaration recommendations after assessing the departures from these normal ranges for all indicators for periods of 3-12 months. Declarations are not based on one indicator alone. For details on indicator monitoring, see this fact sheet: Drought Management in Pennsylvania.

A drought emergency has not been declared for any county.

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