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Metropolitan Council of Governments Issues Regional Drought Watch

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As unusually dry conditions persist throughout the region, a drought "WATCH" was put into effect September 9, for the Metropolitan Washington D.C. area, asking residents and businesses to conserve water and help reduce demand on the region's water supply systems, announced the Drought Coordination Committee of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG).

The WATCH is the second level of COG’s four-stage regional drought response plan used to monitor water levels and respond to drought conditions throughout the year. Regional officials emphasized that while there currently is an adequate supply of water in the Potomac River and back-up reservoirs, implementing voluntary water conservation across the region will help complement measures already in place and help ensure that environmental needs of the river are met.

As a member of COG’s Drought Coordination Committee, Loudoun Water encourages customers to voluntarily reduce water consumption by following the two-day outdoor watering rule, which evenly distributes water use throughout the system. Checking and fixing leaks, washing full loads of laundry and dishes and using a broom instead of a hose to clean sidewalks and driveways are all simple ways to save water. A detailed list of wise water tips can be found at www.loudounwater.org/Residential-Customers/Conservation.

Officials do not anticipate reaching the WARNING or EMERGENCY stages of the Regional Plan for those who get their water from the Potomac River system. The flow in the Potomac River is low but fortunately, due to sound planning by area water utilities and local governments, most of the area is far better prepared to withstand drought than many other regions.  Special water supply reservoirs constructed in the early 1980s to provide water during droughts are currently full and will be utilized if needed.

Background Information

Record high temperatures this summer combined with below normal precipitation affected streamflow and groundwater levels throughout the entire Potomac River Basin.  Precipitation over the past month is 50 percent below normal and has dropped more than four inches below normal in the past 90 days.  River flows are also well below normal levels, and the NOAA Climate Prediction Center has declared 64 percent of the Potomac River Basin to be moderately to severely dry.  Little to no rain is predicted over the next 14 days.