Following a meeting of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has declared a statewide drought watch. While not required, residents and businesses are encouraged to voluntarily conserve water by reducing their nonessential water use.
“Although this week has brought some welcome rain to much of the state, it’s not enough to make up for the lack of rainfall this spring, following a winter that brought little snowfall in many areas,” DEP Acting Secretary Rich Negrin said. “As a result, we’re seeing lowered stream flows, dropping groundwater levels, and persistent precipitation deficits. Water conservation, always a good practice, is especially helpful now as it’ll lessen potential future impacts on water supplies if rainfall continues to be scant this summer.”
Residents and businesses are encouraged to reduce their nonessential water use by five to 10 percent. Simple ways to use less water at home include:
• Running the dishwasher and washing machine less often, and only with full loads.
• Not letting the faucet run while brushing teeth or shaving. Take shorter showers and consider not washing hair daily.
• Watering lawns only if necessary. Avoid watering on windy and hot days. Watering grass lightly and efficiently will encourage healthier, deeper grass roots. Overwatering 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 2-3 inches high. Longer grass shades the soil, improving moisture retention.
• Water your garden less often. If necessary, water only in the cooler evening or morning hours, and direct the water to the ground at the base of the plant. Focus on new plantings, which have shallow root systems. Older plants may endure dry conditions longer.
• Skipping the car washing. If you have to wash your car, it’s better environmentally to go to a drive-through car wash that recycles the water.
• Sweeping your sidewalk, deck, or driveway, instead of hosing it off.
• Checking for and repair household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily.
• Setting up a rain barrel to be ready to repurpose rain when it does fall, or just set out a bucket to capture water in the event of rain, and reuse it to water plants or the bird bath.
For more tips for residents and fact sheets on how businesses such as lawn care services, landscapers, hotels, and restaurants can reduce water use, log onto www.epa.gov/watersense/drought-watersense.