Pa. issues drought watch for 36 counties, including Lehigh and Northampton

Written by on August 31, 2022

Pa. issues drought watch for 36 counties, including Lehigh and Northampton

By Jim Deegan
August 31, 2022

The state issued a drought watch Thursday for 36 counties, including Lehigh and Northampton. (Courtesy PA DEP)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The state issued a drought watch Thursday for 36 counties, including Lehigh and Northampton.

The move by the Department of Environmental Protection’s Commonwealth Drought Task Force asks for voluntary water conservation in affected areas, mainly in the north and northeastern areas of the state. All of the Lehigh Valley and contiguous counties are under the drought watch declaration.

Said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh in a statement: “A few counties have experienced very dry conditions over the summer, and a number of others have inched into increasingly dry conditions in recent weeks. We’re asking Pennsylvanians in all these counties to use water wisely and follow simple water conservation tips to ease the demand for water.”

For a map of drought declarations updated daily, visit the DEP drought web page.

State officials ask residents under drought watch to reduce water use by 5 percent to 10 percent, the equivalent of three to six gallons per day.

Local conditions may lead water suppliers or municipalities to ask for more stringent conservation, according to the DEP. The agency is notifying all water suppliers in the drought watch counties to monitor supplies and be prepared to update drought contingency plans.

Two suppliers in Carbon County are among six in the state that already have asked customers to voluntarily reduce their water use. They are the Palmerton Municipal Water Authority and Pennsylvania American Water Co.’s Bangor District in Carbon County.

A news release offered these methods for conserving water at home:

-Run water only when necessary. Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. Shorten the time you let the water run to warm up before showering.

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

-Water your garden in the cooler evening or morning hours, and direct the water to the ground at the base of the plant, so you don’t waste water through evaporation.

-Water your lawn only if necessary. Apply no more than 1 inch of water per week (use an empty can to determine how long it takes to water 1 inch). Avoid watering on windy and hot days. This pattern will encourage healthier, deeper grass roots. Over-watering 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 to 2-3 inches high. Longer grass shades the soil, improving moisture retention. It also grows thicker and develops a deeper root system, so it can better survive drought.

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

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

-Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40-50 percent less energy.

-Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.

Set up a rain barrel to be ready to repurpose rain when it does fall. For information, see the Penn State Extension guide.


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