Sure it has rained, and snowed. But it’s 2020, so we’re in a drought.
On Wednesday, Steve Disney, executive director of the Bradford City Water Authority, said the authority’s “upland reservoirs remain well below normal.”
Heffer Reservoir, the city’s largest, has a capacity of 760 million gallons. Currently, it’s at 470 million gallons.
“Northwest Pennsylvania experienced a relatively mild 2019-2020 winter, a drier than usual spring and an exceptionally dry/hot summer,” Disney explained. “This has resulted in water aquifer recharge rates and surface flows to be well below normal levels.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has issued a drought warning for McKean County, and has asked people to voluntarily conserve water. Disney agreed.
“The water authority is concurring with DEP recommendations for voluntary conservation of their individual daily water usage of between 10-15%,” he explained.
“Bradford City Water reservoir levels were at 90% capacity when the drought watch was issued, 80% capacity when the drought warning was issued and levels were as low as 64% of capacity three weeks ago, but have slightly improved to 71%. The largest deficit is at the main Heffner Reservoir where it is currently 290 million gallons below full capacity.”
Disney said the water authority is taking steps to track the scope of the problem.
“Over the last several weeks, the Bradford City Water Authority has been reviewing and updating its Drought Contingency Plan which includes reservoir monitoring and various recommendations for water conservation which elevate due to the current trigger points regarding official DEP issued watches and warnings,” he explained.
Authority officials are echoing DEP recommendations for a voluntary reduction of 6 to 9 gallons of water per day per person.
Mindful of safety precautions with COVID-19, Disney said the recommendation is to alternate hand washing with the use of alcohol gel sanitizers to help conserve water.
And while temperatures have yet to hit the single digits, everyone knows it’s coming. And the water authority still recommends the “normal seasonal practice of leaving a drip to prevent frozen pipes at this point.”
The next meeting of the DEP Drought Task Force, which reevaluates the conditions across the state, will be held on Dec. 1.