2008-11-15 / News

DEP ISSUES AREA DROUGH WATCH

Ground water levels and stream flows have been persistently low throughout the region, prompting the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) to issue another drought watch last week.

The declaration is non-binding, calling for a voluntary reduction of non-essential water use by five percent in affected areas. The designation covers Potter, Cameron, McKean, Elk, Clearfield, Clinton, Jefferson, Tioga, Warren and 20 other counties.

"Below-normal precipitation over the past three months has resulted in rainfall deficits of as much as five inches in parts," said acting DEP Secretary John Hanger. "Recent rainfalls have not been enough to bring stream flow and groundwater levels back to normal, so we are asking residents and businesses to conserve water until we get more substantial precipitation."

DEP has sent letters to water suppliers in the affected counties, notifying them of the need to monitor their supplies and update their drought contingency plans as necessary.

The department monitors precipitation, groundwater levels, stream flows, soil moisture and water supply storage. Should water levels continue to fall, DEP could issue more restrictive mandatory conservation measures.

At the George B. Stevenson Reservoir in Sinnemahoning State Park, water levels were still four feet from attaining conservation pool last week.

"The recharge that is occurring is because the trees have gone dormant and are using less water," Park Manager Lisa Bainey said. "This is helping to boost our inflow."

Bainey said divers contracted by the state are performing an inspection of the intake structure of the flood control tower, part of the park's standard operating procedures.

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