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Drought status improves in Pa. counties

November 08, 2002

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Gov. Mark Schweiker Thursday lifted the drought emergency for 16 Pennsylvania counties, including Franklin and Fulton, while continuing the emergency in three other counties.

Schweiker said in a news release that the above-normal rainfall in October helped replenish streams and ground water supplies, but cautioned that officials in many areas of the state were still concerned with the situation.

"What we have to remember is that this drought was years in the making and we still need to practice water conservation, especially in the three counties where the drought emergency has been extended," Schweiker said in the release.

The three counties where the emergency status was extended are Chester, Delaware and Cumberland, which borders Franklin County to the northeast.

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Franklin and Fulton counties, along with four others, have been upgraded to drought-watch status, which asks residents to voluntarily conserve 10 percent to 15 percent of their daily water usage.

Franklin and Fulton counties had been in drought emergency status since February.

The governor's announcement Thursday was well-received in Waynesboro, Pa., where it coincided with the filling of the borough's reservoir for the first time since spring, said S. Leiter Pryor, head of public utilities.

"Our reservoir started overflowing today. The streams feeding the reservoir are running strong, the best I've seen them run in probably a year and a half," Pryor said.

As recently as three weeks ago Waynesboro's reservoir was down 3-feet, 5-inches below the spillway, but steady recent rains continued to fill it.

He said the area is in good shape for the short term but if precipitation doesn't continue this winter, particularly in the form of snow, the region will be right back where it was this summer.

Pryor also said he hopes residents can strike a balance with their water usage.

"I think customers have noticed a reduction in their bills, hopefully that will encourage them to keep conserving some," he said.

Weather observer Todd Toth said Waynesboro received 5.84 inches of precipitation in October, more than 2 inches above normal. September and October were the only months in 2002 so far when rainfall and precipitation were above normal, he said.

Toth said rainfall is still more than 3 inches below normal for the year and more than 22 inches below normal since the start of 2001.

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