RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Ralph Northam issued a drought watch advisory for Virginia.
The move comes as dry weather in the state persists.
The drought watch is intended to increase awareness of current conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event, according to a news release.
"More than half of our Commonwealth is currently experiencing a water deficit, which can have lasting agricultural, economic, environmental impacts," said Gov. Northam.
"While water conservation activities during a drought watch are generally voluntary, we encourage localities and individuals across Virginia to heed this warning and take necessary steps to monitor their water usage."
Cities, water users, and all citizens are encouraged to prepare for potential drought.
The state has seen low precipitation amounts since July, low stream flows—affecting aquifers, lakes, and soils—and low groundwater levels in observation wells compared to previous October levels, according to the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force.
Parts of York County and Newport News and Hampton are under abnormally dry conditions, according to the United States Drought Monitor.
The next stage after a drought watch is a drought warning, which indicates that a significant drought event is imminent.
If a drought warning is issued, water conservation and contingency plans that are already in place—or prepared during a drought watch—would begin.
Additionally, 36 localities in Virginia have issued open air burn bans.
Throughout the drought watch advisory, cities, water suppliers and self-supplied water users in all areas are strongly encouraged to take voluntary steps to protect current water supplies:
- Minimize non-essential water use.
- Review or develop new local water conservation and drought contingency plans and take actions consistent with those plans.
- Share information as broadly as possible.
- Continue monitoring the condition of public waterworks and self-supplied water systems in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health.
- Impose water restrictions when consistent with local water supply conditions.
- Aggressively pursue leak detection and repair programs.