The Department of Environmental Protection has issued drought warnings for 24 counties in east central and southwestern PA, including Allegheny, Beaver, Fayette, Greene, Somerset and Washington. All other counties are under a drought watch.
Steadily declining ground and surface water levels may reduce available water supplies, according to DEP Press Secretary Tom Rathbun, and low soil moisture has meant hardship for farmers. He says the dry, hot summer means the state needs some prolonged, soaking rains to ease the drought situation.
Precipitation in Somerset County and Bucks County is 5-1/2 inches below normal.
Under a drought warning, water users are asked to reduce usage voluntarily by 10 to 15 percent, while a 5% reduction is requested in counties under a drought watch. Rathbun says low-flow plumbing fixtures, faucet aerators, leak repairs, and taking short showers instead of baths are effective strategies.
Commercial and industrial water consumers, as well as individuals, can get conservation information online.