(WSYR-TV) — Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday directed the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to issue a drought watch for 21 New York counties after consulting with the State Drought Management Task Force and federal partner agencies.

“Recent rains across the state were not enough to address the dry conditions that have persisted this year,” Governor Hochul said. “Local water restrictions and educating residents about how to help conserve our water resources will be crucial steps to help prevent a more severe shortage should conditions worsen.”  

Which counties are under a watch

Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genessee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Onondaga, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Suffolk, Tompkins, Wyoming, and Yates.

A watch is the first of four levels of State drought advisories, which are watch, warning, emergency, and disaster.

No mandatory restrictions are in place under a drought watch. 

There have been only a few water source issues reported this summer.

Below-normal precipitation during the last three months, low streamflows, and low groundwater levels prompted the need for action to ensure adequate public water supplies.

Local public water suppliers are urged to assess the current situation, promote voluntary conservation, and take appropriate actions to manage risk.

The drought watch is triggered by the State Drought Index, which reflects precipitation levels, reservoir/lake levels, and stream flow and groundwater levels in the nine drought regions of the state. Each of these indicators is assigned a weighted value based on its significance to various uses in a region. The State Drought Index is attuned to the specific attributes of New York and may differ moderately from some national technical drought assessments.

The National Weather Service outlook for August is calling for below-normal precipitation. By voluntarily reducing water usage, and being extra careful with fire and outdoor flames, New Yorkers can help conserve our natural resources during these dry days of summer. 

Courtesy: NOAA/Climate Prediction Center

Tips to protect water usage

  • Water lawns only when necessary, choose watering methods that avoid waste, and water in the early morning to reduce evaporation and maximize soil hydration
  • Reuse water collected in rain barrels, dehumidifiers, or air conditioners to water plants
  • Raise lawn mower cutting heights. Longer grass is healthier with stronger roots and needs less water
  • Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks
  • Fix leaking pipes, hoses, and faucets