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A drought is a long period of dry weather that can cause serious problems for the public water supply and local crops.

Stages of drought

There are three stages to a drought, varying in degrees of severity. Depending on the drought stage, affected areas may be asked to take the following voluntary or mandatory water conservation measures:

  1. Drought watch: Reduce overall water use by at least 5% through voluntary conservation measures.
  2. Drought warning: Reduce overall water use by at least 10–15% through voluntary conservation measures.
  3. Drought emergency: Reduce “consumptive” water use — where water is used and not returned to a stream, river, or water treatment center — by 15% through voluntary or mandatory conservation measures.

Drought emergencies

The governor of Pennsylvania may call for restrictions on non-essential water uses in the event of a drought emergency. During a drought emergency, it is illegal to:

  • Use a hose to clean your vehicles, trailers, or boats. You should use a bucket for water when washing these items.
  • Use water to clean sidewalks, streets, or gutters, unless a public official asked you to do so.
  • Use water for fountains, waterfalls, reflecting pools, or other decorative items.
  • Water gardens, trees, shrubs (except between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m).  You should use a bucket, can, or hand-held hose that has an automatic shutoff nozzle.
  • Water lawns. You can water newly seeded or sodded lawns between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. by bucket, can, or hand-held hose that has an automatic shutoff nozzle. Do not use sprinklers.
  • Fill home swimming pools.
  • Fill swimming pools serving hotels, motels, and apartment complexes (unless they have equipment that recycles the water over the swimming season). Pools used by health care facilities for patient care and rehabilitation may be filled.
  • Serve water in restaurants, clubs, or eating establishments unless it’s requested by the diner.