Frequently Asked Questions - Drought
How frequently do droughts occur in Pennsylvania?
Extremely serious droughts have occurred in Pennsylvania at approximately thirty-year intervals. Minor droughts occur much more frequently. Pennsylvania has experienced significant droughts in five of the last seven years.
How are drought stages determined?
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection monitors precipitation, stream flow, groundwater levels, reservoir storage, and the Palmer Drought Index. When enough of these indicators reach predetermined triggers, a drought watch, drought warning, or drought emergency is declared on a county basis.
Will there be enough water in Pennsylvania for the future?
Pennsylvania is a water-rich state, but certain areas of the state are developing at a rate that has exceeded existing or future water supplies. Proposed legislation would attempt to better manage Pennsylvania's existing water resources.
If I have my own well or spring, does a ban on nonessential water use during a drought emergency apply to me?
Yes, even homeowners with private water supplies must eliminate nonessential water use (lawn watering, garden watering, car washing, etc.) during a drought emergency.
How do I know if my well is going to go dry during a drought?
Consult with local experts, such as well drillers, to determine the general groundwater conditions in your area. A well with low water will normally first lose water during a peak use time. If you greatly reduce your water use, you may be able to continue to use the well at a reduced level during the dry weather.
What if my well goes dry?
In some cases, the submersible pump can be lowered in the existing well to re-access groundwater. Otherwise, the existing well must be deepened or a new, deeper well must be drilled.
Do I own the water under my home?
No, you have the right to use the water in a reasonable way, but you do not own the water. As long as water is being used reasonably, the landowner with the deepest well and biggest pump will access the water first.
Can I use water from a stream on my property?
Yes, as long as you use the water reasonably and use it on the land that adjoins the stream.
How can I conserve water?
Water conservation can be achieved through changes in habit or through installation of water-saving fixtures and appliances. Habit changes would include shorter showers, less frequent toilet flushing, and only washing full loads of clothes and dishes. The installation of low-flow toilets, front-loading washers, and low-flow shower heads and faucets can easily reduce your household water use by 30 percent.