Monroe, Pike are part of 27-county drought watch
Monroe and Pike counties are part of a declared 27-county drought watch due to below-average groundwater levels.
A recent surge of surface water from snow melt has failed adequately to recharge groundwater levels in northeast and central Pennsylvania, the state Department of Environmental Protection said in issuing the call for residents to conserve water consumption.
Low groundwater levels can cause well-fed water supplies, both private and public, to go dry.
The extremely dry fall and below-normal precipitation in January and February have contributed to the lack of groundwater. Increasing temperatures and melting snow have helped improve conditions, DEP said, but groundwater levels may not be back to normal before the summer.
Other counties under the drought watch are Carbon, Wayne, Berks, Bradford, Cambria, Clinton, Columbia, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Westmoreland, and Wyoming.
Among DEP suggestions for reducing water consumption:
• Run water only when absolutely necessary. Avoid keeping water flowing while brushing teeth, or turning on the shower before use.
• Check for household leaks. A leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day.
• Run dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads.
• Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40 to 50 percent less energy.
• Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.
DEP is notifying all water suppliers in the affected areas of the need to monitor supplies, particularly those that rely upon groundwater, and update their drought contingency plans as necessary.
A drought watch declaration is the first and least-severe level of the state’s three drought classifications. It calls for a voluntary five percent reduction in non-essential water use and puts large water consumers on notice to begin planning for the possibility of reduced water supplies.
Through a cooperative program with the U.S. Geological Survey, DEP helps fund a statewide network of gauges to monitor groundwater levels and stream flows. This network provides the state’s drought coordinator with comprehensive data that is used to determine drought classifications. In addition to precipitation, groundwater and stream flow levels, DEP monitors soil moisture and water supply storage. This data is shared with other state and federal agencies.
DEP also offers water conservation recommendations and water audit procedures for commercial and industrial users, such as food processors, hotels and educational institutions.
These recommendations and additional drought information are available by visiting DEP’s website -- www.dep.state.pa.us – and searching under the keyword: drought.