Steady August rain has improved Pennsylvania’s drought conditions, and the Department of Environmental Protection is now lifting a drought watch it imposed on 15 western counties in mid-July.
While water withdrawal moratoriums are still being enforced within the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, DEP Secretary Michael Krancer issued a statement saying water levels have risen in the west. “Rainfall over the last six weeks helped out the situation immensely in these counties. …We’ve seen improved stream-flows and soil moisture, and while some groundwater levels are still below normal we feel confident that conditions will continue to improve.”
The state’s drought watch – which went into effect on July 19th – didn’t carry any restrictions with it. Companies were only asked to temporarily reduce water usage. The state’s press release details how watches fit into drought categories:
A drought watch declaration, the first and least severe level of the state’s three drought classifications, calls for a voluntary five-percent reduction in non-essential water use. A drought warning is the second level of the drought classification and asks residents to voluntarily reduce water use by 10-15 percent. A drought emergency is declared through proclamation by the governor, bans non-essential use and requires public water suppliers to implement contingency plans.