New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos recently issued a statewide drought watch, the first since 2002.
"While most public water supplies are still generally normal throughout the state, below normal precipitation over the last nine months, low stream flows, and reduced groundwater levels have prompted the need for this action," Seggos said. "We are encouraging residents throughout the state to conserve water whenever possible during the coming months."
A drought watch is the first of four levels of advisories, with "warning," emergency" and "disaster" following. No statewide mandatory water use restrictions are in place during a watch, but local public suppliers can require them depending on local conditions and needs.
The drought watch reflects precipitation levels, reservoir and lake levels, stream flow and groundwater levels in nine designated regions. Each indicator is assigned a weighted value that is based on its significance to a region's uses.
Groundwater levels are below normal throughout much of the state and are not expected to increase in the near future due to a deficit in precipitation.
"Conserving water is important all year long, but particularly during extended dry periods," Seggos said. "By voluntarily reducing water usage, and being extra careful with fire and outdoor flames, New Yorkers can help conserve our natural resources during these dry days of summer."