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Statewide drought watch advisory issued, half of Virginia experiencing water deficit

A statewide drought watch advisory was announced by Governor Ralph Northam Friday.

The announcement said the goal of the drought watch is intended to increase awareness of conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event.

Localities, water suppliers, self-supplied water users, and all citizens are encouraged begin preparations for a potential drought.

According to the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, the primary factors for the drought advisory are low precipitation amounts across the state since July, low stream flows (affecting aquifers, lakes, and soils) and low groundwater levels in observation wells compared to previous October levels.

The next stage after a drought watch is a drought warning, which indicates that a significant drought event is imminent. If a drought warning is issued, water conservation and contingency plans that are already in place—or prepared during a drought watch—would begin, the announcement said.

36 localities in Virginia have also issued open air burn bans. Check the Virginia Department of Forestry’s map for the latest information on active burn bans. 

Meanwhile, locally many areas in eastern Virginia and North Carolina were issued Coastal Flood Warnings and Advisories on Friday that last through Saturday.

“More than half of our Commonwealth is currently experiencing a water deficit, which can have lasting agricultural, economic, environmental impacts,” said Governor Northam. “While water conservation activities during a drought watch are generally voluntary, we encourage localities and individuals across Virginia to heed this warning and take necessary steps to monitor their water usage.”

Throughout the drought watch advisory, localities, water suppliers and self-supplied water users in all areas are strongly encouraged to take voluntary steps to protect current water supplies.

  • Minimize non-essential water use.
  • Review or develop new local water conservation and drought contingency plans and take actions consistent with those plans.
  • Share information as broadly as possible.
  • Continue monitoring the condition of public waterworks and self-supplied
    water systems in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health.
  • Impose water restrictions when consistent with local water supply conditions.
  • Aggressively pursue leak detection and repair programs.

Statewide information on current drought conditions is available on the DEQ website.

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