Drought watch map

County drought status map shows what counties are under a drought watch.

Sixteen Pennsylvania counties — including Potter and McKean counties — are under a drought watch.

The counties, along with Armstrong, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Fayette, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Mifflin and Perry counties, were placed under a drought watch by the Department of Environmental Protection on Aug. 21.

Drought conditions are evaluated and monitored by the DEP.

Kristina Peacock-Jones, P.E. commonwealth drought coordinator, said, “A drought watch is indicated by precipitation, groundwater, surface water and the Palmer Soil Index. Evaluation showed that precipitation was at least 25% less than normal in the counties listed. A drought watch shows 25-35% less than normal values.”

DEP asked residents in the affected counties “to reduce their individual water use 5% to 60 gallons per day, based on a state-wide average of 62 gallons per person per day.

They are also asked to follow recommendations to reduce water use.”

A drought can present various challenges depending on its timing, severity, duration and location.

Droughts have the potential to reduce drinking water supplies for communities. It could significantly affect agriculture, the timber industry, tourism, outdoor recreation, businesses and wildlife habitat. A threat of wildfire could also increase.

What can people do? The DEP encourages people to reserve water by:

  • Run water only when it is necessary. Do not let the faucet run while brushing teeth or shaving. Shorten the
  • time of a running shower.
  • Collect water to reuse for watering plants. Water in the morning or evening and at the base of the plant to reduce evaporation and be more efficient.
  • Run the dishwasher and laundry machines with full loads; the equipment uses more water on multiple small loads.
  • Check for household leaks.
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets could also be installed to help conserve water.

The DEP said that “a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily. Replace older applications with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30% less water and 40-50% less energy.”

Conditions continue to evolve. For more information, visit http://www.dep.pa.gov/drought.

The DEP will monitor the process along with a task force to keep people up to date with new information.