Pennsylvania residents are being asked to voluntarily conserve water after a statewide drought watch was declared on Thursday. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says residents are encouraged to reduce 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 in a statement.
“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 in the state are being asked to reduce their nonessential water use by 5% to 10%.
The DEP listed the following examples on how Pennsylvanians can use less water at home:
- Run the dishwasher and washing machine less often, and only with full loads.
- Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. Take shorter showers. For example, consider not washing your hair daily.
- Water your lawn 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.
- Skip 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.
- Sweep your sidewalk, deck, or driveway, instead of hosing it off.
- Check for and repair household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily.
- Set up a rain barrel to be ready to repurpose rain when it does fall. For helpful information, see this Penn State Extension guide. Or just set out a bucket to capture water in the event of rain, and reuse it to water plants or the bird bath.
The statewide drought watch was declared following a meeting of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force this week, the DEP said.