Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Oswego counties are included in a drought watch issued by the state and announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday for four regions of New York, including Long Island, the Upper Hudson/Mohawk area, the Adirondacks and the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River area (regions I, IV, V, and VI of the drought map).

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos issued the watch after consulting with experts from the State Drought Management Task Force.

“The recent wave of extreme heat has caused a developing drought in several parts of the state and without adequate rain, conditions could worsen,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I am encouraging all New Yorkers under local water restrictions to pitch in and take steps to conserve water whenever possible until the advisory is lifted to help prevent a more severe shortage.”

A “watch” is the first of four levels of state drought advisories (“watch,” “warning,” “emergency,” and “disaster”). There are no statewide mandatory water use restrictions in place under a drought watch or warning, but citizens are strongly encouraged to voluntarily conserve water. Local public water suppliers may impose water use restrictions depending upon local needs and conditions.

Mr. Seggos said, “While the watch is just the first stage, it gives New York State agencies and emergency response advanced notice of a developing drought. We can all do our part conserving water now by taking some simple steps. Minor changes in your everyday routine can go a long way in helping prevent increased drought levels.”

Conservation tips for homeowners to reduce outdoor water usage include:

Fix dripping and leaking faucets and toilets, a faucet leaking 30 drops per minute wastes 54 gallons a month.

Raise lawn mower cutting height. Longer grass needs less water.

If the community allows watering, water lawns and gardens on alternate mornings instead of every day. Less frequent watering will develop grass with deeper roots, and early morning watering minimizes evaporation.

When using automatic lawn watering systems, override the system in wet weather or use a rain gauge to control when and how much water to use. A fixed watering schedule wastes water. Irrigate only when needed to save water and improve the lawn’s health.

Sweep sidewalks and steps rather than hosing them. Eliminating a weekly, five-minute pavement hose-down could save between 625 and 2,500 gallons of water per year depending on the flow rate.

For more water saving tips, visit DEC’s webpage at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/5009.html.

The drought watch and warnings are triggered by the State Drought Index, which reflects precipitation levels, reservoir/lake levels, and stream flow and groundwater levels in New York State’s nine drought regions. Each of these indicators is assigned a weighted value based on its significance to various uses in a region. For more detailed drought information, please visit DEC’s webpage at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/5011.html.

Map of New York State drought conditions available here.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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