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Watch your water: PA is in a Drought Watch
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Watch your water: PA is in a Drought Watch

Wildfires are also up in PA. Here’s what you can do to conserve water.

After a record-breaking dry May, Pennslyvania is on statewide drought watch.

As a result, the state is experiencing lower stream flows, dropping groundwater levels, and precipitation deficits. “Pennsylvania’s beneficial natural average rainfall has been upended by weather extremes and unpredictability in recent years. This year is no exception, with more than 90 percent of the topsoil across the state either short or very short in moisture content in the past week,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.  

Due to the low precipitation, there’s an increase in wildfires in PA this year. There have been 1400 wildfires that have burned 8500 acres in the state so far in 2023, compared to 1036 wildfires burning 2700 acres total in 2022. With 99% of wildfires started by people, be careful of factors that increase the risk of starting a wildfire like burning debris, equipment use, power lines, and campfires.

PA drought watch 2023
Source: DEP

Residents are asked to conserve water by reducing nonessential water use by 5-10%.

Here are easy ways to reduce your water, according to DEP:

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.

Photo by Mayank Dhanawade on Unsplash


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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher
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