Sep 20 2010

Drought Warning

Published by at 7:45 am under Weather & Sky


Last Thursday the Department of Environmental Protection issued a drought warning for 24 counties in Pennsylvania and a drought watch in the remaining 43.  The entire state is dry but some places are worse than others. 

Here in western Pennsylvania I could see it coming.

Since July we’ve had no rain for weeks at a time, then a day of mere drizzle or a single downpour that ran off the packed, dry dirt.  The ground is rock hard, the plants have shriveled, and some trees have lost their leaves even though it’s only September.  I was wondering when DEP would declare a drought.

A drought warning is more severe than a watch. Highlighted below are the counties in the warning zone.  As you can see, both the bottom left corner and the east central part of the state are in trouble.

In the warning area DEP asks residents to reduce water use voluntarily by 10-15 percent.  We’re urged not to water our lawns, not to take long showers, to check our faucets for leaks and to upgrade our plumbing.

I’m sure DEP told industry to conserve as well.  

I hope the industries that take water without giving it back(*) will stop drawing water until the drought is over.

(Drought photo from Shutterstock)

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(*)  In western Pennsylvania the Marcellus Shale drilling industry is permitted to draw 48.5 million gallons per day from the Ohio watershed.  The water cannot be given back because most of it is lost underground during hydraulic fracturing and the remainder, which cannot be treated yet to safe drinking water levels, is too dangerous to consume.  For a discussion of Marcellus Shale water issues see this paper by a law firm advising the industry, and this news article about the Monongahela River.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Drought Warning”

  1. Marianneon 20 Sep 2010 at 10:37 am

    Here in northwestern Clearfield County, DuBois keeps getting bypassed for rain. I have watched the radar many times this summer and saw where the rain dissipates just before hitting or splits and goes north and south of DuBois.

    Therefore, even though Clearfield County is in a drought watch, DuBois should be in the warning area.

    This is the first time I have ever had to water my perennial garden, which sits over a groundwater outlet!

    I have had to water my veggie gardens more times than ever! :-(

    It is sad that the Marcellus shale gas industry uses so much good water, never to be seen again…unless it resurfaces as polluted water.

  2. Marianneon 20 Sep 2010 at 12:43 pm

    I forgot to mention that some sumacs, goldenrods and other weeds have been wilting. There are trees around here that have lost their leaves prematurely.

  3. Lindaon 21 Sep 2010 at 9:54 pm

    If you have not already seen the film Gasland, about the side affects of Marcellus Shale gas drilling, make a point to see it. You will understand why everyone needs to made aware of the threat to our most precious resource, water. This drought is nothing in comparison to what people have seen where drilling is taking place.

  4. Kate St. Johnon 22 Sep 2010 at 7:19 am

    Information on the movie Gasland can be found here: http://gaslandthemovie.com/
    Watch the trailer here: http://gaslandthemovie.com/trailer/
    Gasland will be on DVD in December.

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