News Flash

Sustainability Advisory Committee

Posted on: June 21, 2023

Drought Watch and Water Conservation Tips


On June 15, Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a news release declaring that the entire state is under a drought watch. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Pennsylvania Drought Condition Monitoring - June 16, 2023 report, Chester County is classified as being in a moderate drought. 

Drought watch, warning, and emergency status declarations aren’t based on one indicator alone, such as rainfall amounts. The DEP assesses information provided by public water suppliers and data on four hydrologic indicators: precipitation, surface water (stream and river) flow, groundwater level, and soil moisture. The indicators are monitored in close partnership with the USGS, which maintains gages in streams and wells in many locations across the state. The DEP makes drought status recommendations after assessing departures from normal ranges and comparing this information to historical data. 

Historically observed impacts of moderate drought in Pennsylvania are a decline in honey production; lower hay and grain yields; trees, landscaping, and fish are stressed; wildfires and ground fires increase; reservoir and lake levels are below normal capacity; and voluntary water conservation is requested. The DEP encourages residents and businesses to reduce nonessential water use by up to 10% and offers the following suggestions on how to do so.

• Run the dishwasher and washing machine less often, and only with full loads.

• Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. Take shorter showers. For example, consider not washing your hair daily. 

• Water your lawn only if necessary. Avoid watering on windy and hot days. Watering grass lightly and efficiently 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 2-3 inches high. Longer grass shades the soil, improving moisture retention. 

• Water your garden less often. If necessary, water only in the cooler evening or morning hours, and direct the water to the ground at the base of the plant. Focus on new plantings, which have shallow root systems. Older plants may endure dry conditions longer.

• Skip the car washing. If you have to wash your car, it's better environmentally to go to a drive-through car wash that recycles the water.

• Sweep your sidewalk, deck, or driveway, instead of hosing it off.

• Check for and repair household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily. 

• Set up a rain barrel to be ready to repurpose rain when it does fall. For helpful information, see this Penn State Extension guide. Or just set out a bucket to capture water in the event of rain, and reuse it to water plants or the bird bath.

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