Division of Water
DRY WEATHER ADVISORY IS ISSUED
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 29, 2005) – With the signs of dryness all around – brown lawns, widening cracks in the soil and hot, dry weather – many are wondering whether Kentucky is in the midst of another drought. The Division of Water has assessed several drought indicators and has concluded that mild drought conditions have developed across most of central and western Kentucky. However, sporadic and locally heavy rainfall across the state over the next several days will bring some relief to some areas.
Precipitation has been noticeably deficient across Kentucky for several weeks. Extended periods of hot, dry weather can have serious effects on lawns, gardens and agricultural crops, all of which require adequate levels of moisture in the surface layers of the soil.
A more sustained dry period is necessary in order for conditions to develop into a drought that threatens water levels in rivers, streams, lakes and shallow aquifers.
The current dry spell is a relatively short-term development after two years during which there has been ample precipitation. Flows in the state’s rivers and streams are beginning to show the effect of the lack of rainfall, with many now falling below what is considered a normal range of flow for this time of year. Impacts are most pronounced in smaller tributaries and headwater streams of central and western Kentucky. Some larger rivers, most notably the Upper Kentucky, Dix, Upper Green, Rolling Fork, South Fork of the Licking and Barren, are flowing below normal as well. To our west in Missouri and Illinois, moderate drought has taken hold and could spread into Kentucky if conditions do not improve.
At this time, there are no reported problems associated with inadequate sources of water supply. However, a combination of higher than normal temperatures and lower than normal precipitation has led some communities to ask citizens to help conserve water as treatment plants struggle to meet unusually high demands. Currently, several water suppliers in central and south central Kentucky have announced voluntary or mandatory restrictions on outdoor water use.
The Division of Water encourages all citizens to use water wisely and to heed the advisories issued by local water suppliers. Some actions that individuals can take to help relieve the pressure on their water systems include:
- Limit outdoor water use to keeping landscape plants and shrubs alive during the dry period. Avoid trying to bring a lawn back once it has begun to turn brown.
- Avoid washing cars, patios and sidewalks. Use local car washes if absolutely necessary, and use a broom to maintain a clean sidewalk or driveway.
- Fix leaky toilets and faucets. One leaking faucet can waste as much as 2,000 gallons of water per month.
- Limit water use in the home, reduce the length of showers and limit the time a faucet runs while washing hands or brushing teeth. Only about 5 percent of water used in the home is for drinking and cooking. Most water is used in bathrooms (75 percent) and for laundry and cleaning (20 percent).
The Division of Water’s Drought Web page will be updated regularly. It contains links to other sources for drought information as well. See it at http://www.water.ky.gov/wateruse/drought/.