DEP Expands Drought Watch to 18 Counties, Declares Drought Warning for Potter County 

After a meeting of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) 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.

There are many ways to reduce water use around the house and yard, including:

  • 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. Use a bucket to catch the water and reuse it to water your plants.
  • Run the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.
  • When watering your garden, be efficient and effective: Water in the evening or morning, and direct the water to the ground at the base of the plant, so you don’t waste water through evaporation.
  • If you water your lawn, water it only when necessary, and avoid watering on windy and hot days. Apply no more than 1 inch of water per week (use an empty can to determine how long it takes to water 1 inch). This pattern will encourage more healthy, deep grass roots. Over-watering is wasteful, encourages fungal growth and disease, and results in shallow, compacted root systems that are more susceptible to drought.
  • Re-use old water from bird baths, vases, or pet bowls to water plants.
  • 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 household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily.
  • Sweep your sidewalk, deck, or driveway, rather than 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.

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.