Pennsylvania DEP Extends Drought Watch to 53 Counties

The lack of significant rain over most of the state during September and the beginning October has prompted the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to expand its drought watch declaration to 53 counties.

The expanded declaration was recommended following a meeting this week of the state's drought task force.

"We are asking everyone in the affected counties to be diligent in conserving water since long-range forecasts are not predicting the kind of slow, steady, soaking rain needed to break the drought," DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty said on Oct. 5. "In addition, reducing demand at this time of year is more challenging since most of our water use is associated with indoor activities."

A drought watch is the first and least severe of the state's three drought watch declarations. It calls for a voluntary 5 percent reduction in non-essential water use. A drought warning -- also a voluntary measure -- asks users to reduce water consumption by 10 to 15 percent.

Following an unusually dry summer, DEP declared a drought watch on Aug. 6 for 58 counties. On Sept. 5, 26 counties were removed from the drought watch following storms in late August.

On Oct. 5, nine new counties were placed in watch status: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton and Philadelphia. Additionally, 13 counties re-entered drought watch status: Armstrong, Butler, Carbon, Clarion, Juniata, Lawrence, Lebanon, Mercer, Northumberland, Perry, Susquehanna, Tioga and York.

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