Last week, the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a drought warning for our newspaper's entire coverage area - Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, and Schuylkill Counties.
The combination of lower rain than usual with the excessive summer heat has resulted in stream levels being well below normal.
One only has to see the receding shore line at Mauch Chunk Lake Park to understand how critical the water level has become.
The National Weather Service says rainfall is four inches below normal for the past 90 days in the Lehigh Valley. Carbon County has a 4.5 inch deficit for 90 days while in Monroe County, there is a 5.2 inch rainfall shortage for the three-month period.
The DEP is asking people to conserve water. One of the most common sources of waste water is a leak within your residence, such as a toilet. DEP says a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day. Although many households are strapped for cash right now, fixing such a leak should be a priority since it can also reduce your monthly water bill.
DEP encourages residents to conserve water by taking showers instead of baths.
Also, keep water in the refrigerator to avoid running water from a faucet until it is cold.
Run your dishwasher only when it is full.
Water is a precious resource and we can't ignore the fact that levels at our storage facilities are being reduced by the lack of rain. Generally, the water lines aren't fully restored until spring when a good snow pack melts. A dry winter will make things very critical, so it's best to start conserving now.
This is especially true if you rely on wells rather than city water.
The DEP could do more to help the situation by making its Web site more user friendly with drought advice, suggestions, and information. Very little is stated on the DEP site about the drought conditions.
After all, it is the DEP which issues drought warnings.
We agree that there is a drought. We have to think ahead, though, to assure that if the drought continues, we'll still have enough water to meet our every day needs.
By Ron Gower