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Area Drought Watch

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday announced that dozens of counties will remain under “drought watch,” despite recent rainfall.

This comes after an unusually dry summer throughout the Northeastern United States.

A number of water authorities and companies in Centre County told 6 News on Wednesday that they’re not feeling any impacts right now, but that it can take a whole year to truly see any effects.

The DEP initially put Centre County and others in our region under drought watch on August 31st. These other counties in our region are Clearfield, Cameron, and Clinton.

The DEP warning all water suppliers in affected counties to keep an eye on their supplies and to update their drought contingency plans, as necessary.

The DEP asks those under drought watch to voluntarily cut back their water usage by five to 10%, or a decrease of three to six gallons of water per day. DEP drought coordinator Susan Weaver broke it down for us, earlier this month.

“It’s a communication tool that we use to inform everyone that, ‘Hey, conditions are dry. Please conserve your water usage, It’s a voluntary request to conserve water. We want people to understand that right now it’s dry and we should be paying attention to how much water we use.”

The DEP’s acting secretary, Ramez Ziadeh, in a statement said, “conditions have improved with the recent rain, but we need to see continued meaningful precipitation over several months and have public water suppliers in affected counties returning to normal operations before the drought watch can be lifted.”

He added that “we ask Pennsylvanians in these counties to continue to use water wisely and follow simple water conservation tips to ease the demand for water.”

And some of these tips provided by the DEP include:

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.

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