Following the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Drought Task Force, the Department of Environmental Protection announced today that it has removed about two-thirds of the state from drought watch and warning status, including Carbon, Schuylkill, Monroe, Northampton, and Lehigh counties, which had been under drought warnings.

DEP lifted the declarations for 46 counties located primarily in central and eastern Pennsylvania. In western Pennsylvania, 21 counties either remain in or were reclassified to drought watch status.

"The remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole dropped two to seven inches of rain above the average for the eastern two-thirds of the state in late September, helping to return stream flow measurements in those regions to normal," said DEP Secretary John Hanger. "That same weather system bypassed the western part of the state, though, and more recently, ongoing dry conditions have worsened the region's precipitation deficit, so we're keeping drought watch designations in place for the time being."

The Pennsylvania Drought Task Force used reports and forecasts from the National Weather Service and DEP's drought monitoring network to form its recommendations.

In addition to the five area counties, the drought watch and drought warning designations have been lifted in Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Bucks, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montgomery, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, Wyoming and York counties.

Drought warnings and watches were declared on Sept. 16 following months of below-normal rainfall that resulted in low stream flow conditions and precipitation deficits of as much as five inches.

DEP offers conservation recommendations for residential water users; as well as commercial and industrial users such as food processors, hotels and motels, schools and colleges.

Water conservation tips and drought information can be found online at www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Drought.