The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a drought watch Thursday for 15 western Pennsylvania counties, including Warren.
According to Amanda Witman of the department's press office, a drought watch is the least severe of the state's drought classifications, which also include drought warnings and emergencies.
According to a DEP press release, a drought watch indicates a need for a voluntary five percent reduction in water usage. A watch also serves to warn the public, and large water usage facilities in particular, that a reduction in supply is possible.
Drought status is determined by formulating precipitation, ground and surface water levels and soil moisture.
According to Witman, "There is no magic number that will automatically rescind the drought watch declaration."
She said DEP will continue to monitor the four factors and, if conditions remain the same and drought worsens, may elevate the watch to a warning status.
According to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data, surface water measurements in the county are already at emergency levels, while precipitation measurements indicate a warning level and ground water measurements are normal. The USGS also provides Palmer Index data, which measures dryness based on a formula accounting for temperature and rainfall and is an indicator of drought status over long term periods. Palmer data indicates Warren County is at a warning level.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers data indicated Allegheny Reservoir measurements at 1,323.36 feet at 1 p.m. Friday. The measurement is over four feet less than the summer maximum pool level, the amount with room left for full flood protection capacity, of 1,327.5 feet.
The Allegheny River at the Kinzua Dam outflow measured a depth of 8.14 feet and a discharge rate of 1,420 cubic-feet-per-second.
The Allegheny River depth at Warren was measured at 2.73 feet, the Conewango Creek at Russell measured a depth of 2.16 feet, while Brokenstraw Creek at Youngsville measured a depth of 1.38 feet.
Precipitation between 1 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Friday was measured at .82 inches.
Little relief from drought conditions due to rainfall was forecasted. The National Weather Service forecast predicted no precipitation for Saturday and only a 20 to 30 percent chance of precipitation throughout next week.
Warren County has received 7.9 fewer inches of precipitation this year than average and has only received 1.8 inches of total precipitation since June 20.
According to the DEP, steps to reduce water usage include installing low-flow plumbing and aerators on faucets; checking for household leaks; taking short showers instead of baths; replacing older appliances that use water with newer, high-efficiency models; running dishwashers and washing machines with full loads and keeping water in the refrigerator to avoid running water while waiting for faucet water to become cold.
The DEP has also notified water suppliers about the need to monitor supplies and update contingency plans.