Thursday, September 9, 2010

Drought Alert for D.C. Region

WASHINGTON - The D.C. area's heavy dose of sunshine over the last six weeks has begun to take its toll on the region's water supply system.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) has issued a drought watch for the D.C. region, asking residents and business to conserve water.

The record high temperatures along with the absence of rain in the area has affected streamflow and groundwater levels throughout the Potomac River Basin. In the last month, precipitation levels are 50 percent below normal.

While water demand decreases as fall approaches, COG wants people to take the appropriate steps to make sure the strain on supply systems is minimal.

"We are encouraging folks, sort of as an awareness step, to encourage conservation now, so if the drought were to persist and become worse, folks are practiced at what to do to conserve water," says COG's water resources technical manager Steve Bieber.

The watch is the second step in COG's four-stage drought response plan. Officials do not anticipate the watch reaching a "warning" or "emergency" phase.

COG wants residents and businesses to use water wisely during their daily routines, including:
  • Limiting the watering of lawns, plants and shrubs
  • Using a broom instead of a hose to clean sidewalks and driveways
  • Using a commercial car wash that recycles water
  • Reducing shower length
  • Turning off water while brushing teeth
  • Washing full loads in dish and clothes washers
If watering your lawn in necessary, Bieber says two waterings a week is enough to sustain its health.

"Measure the water using something simple like a rain gauge or you can even use a tuna can so you know how much water is going on your lawn," he says.

"You want to limit your watering to about one inch a week. Your best bet is to divide the watering of one inch into two waterings per week, typically in the evening, so you are not losing a lot of it to evaporation."

COG also asks people to use extra caution when smoking outside or using outdoor grills due to the fire hazard they present when used around extremely dry conditions.

Read other posts about conserving water on the Metro DC Lawn and Garden Blog

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