Sep 20 2010
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)
(*) 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.