After nearly two months, a drought watch has been lifted for much of the Philadelphia area

After a fairly dry summer, strong rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ian have helped restore Philly-area reservoirs, leading to an end of the drought watch.

The Philadelphia skyline is pictured at night

The Philadelphia skyline is pictured at night during the fall of 2021. (Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)

In late August, after a fairly dry summer, a drought watch went into effect for 36 Pennsylvania counties including Berks, Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia.

State drought coordinator Susan Weaver called the drought watch an effort to get people to start paying attention to how they use water.

“That way we can start practicing better water usage and be prepared for the future in the event that we don’t get the type of rainfall that we typically get in this area,” Weaver said in August.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The declaration called for residents to conserve water. The official request was to save 5% to 10% of water usage, or 3 to 6 gallons of water per day.

Now, after a wet September and early October — helped along by the remnants of Hurricane Ian — Philadelphia and its surrounding counties have sufficiently recovered from the lack of rain this summer, and the drought watch has been lifted.

A watch is the lowest level of drought advisory. If the area had stayed dry, state officials could have raised the alarm to a drought warning or even a drought emergency.

All of New Jersey remains under a drought watch, even though the southern part of the state got 6 to 8 inches from Ian’s remains. North Jersey saw much less rain from that early October storm, and because many of the state’s key reservoirs are in the north, the watch continues.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection called the recent rainfall “a good start,” but not enough to erase the summer’s precipitation deficit.

Similarly, the drought watch still stands for 20 counties in mostly central Pennsylvania.

“While significant recent rainfall has helped, groundwater and some public water supply levels remain lower than normal ranges in some counties,” said acting secretary of the DEP Ramez Ziadeh.

“We ask Pennsylvanians in these and adjacent counties to continue to use water wisely and follow simple water conservation tips to ease the demand for water,” Ziadeh said.

The counties still on drought watch include Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Dauphin, Juniata, Lebanon, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, and Union.

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal