Prolonged periods of drought have environmental, economical and social consequences. Droughts directly affect both the quantity and quality of drinking water supplies.
The Virginia Department of Health, Office of Drinking Water (VDH-ODW) is one of 12 partners monitoring drought conditions and its effects in the Commonwealth of Virginia guided by the Virginia Drought Assessment and Response Plan. These monitoring efforts are led by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) through a group called the Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF).
Under the DMTF, the VDH-ODW is responsible for monitoring and reporting the operational status of waterworks as it relates to drought conditions.
ODW’s DMTF Latest Report
As of February 2018, three waterworks are implementing mandatory water use restrictions and two waterworks are implementing voluntary water use restrictions in Virginia.
Louisa County Water Authority (PWS ID 2109510) has implemented mandatory restrictions. Months of dry conditions, with very little rainfall, have caused the Northeast Creek Reservoir level and the Green Springs Well System levels to drop lower than normal levels for this time of year. The Authority serves a population of approximately 5,641 people.
Fluvanna Correctional Center (PWS ID 2065250) is currently under mandatory restrictions due to dropping reservoir levels and low to no flow at the Mechunk River intake. The center serves approximately 1,690 customers.
Louisa County Zion Crossroads (PWS ID 2109990) is under mandatory conservation restrictions due to dropping water levels in their wells. The system serves about 1,898 people.
The Town of Strasburg (PWS ID 2171750) implemented voluntary restrictions based on the 7-day running average of stream flows in the North Fork Shenandoah River on November 30. Currently, the 7-day running average was measured below the 115 cfs “Drought Warning” trigger set by Virginia DEQ. The Town serves a population of approximately 6,489 people.
The Bedford Regional Water Authority (PWS ID 5019052) implemented voluntary restrictions on January 5, 2018. The authority issued a “Water Shortage Advisory”, which asks customers to be cautious of non-essential uses such as filling pools, outdoor watering, and washing cars. This advisory is also requiring restaurants serve water to tables only if requested. The authority notes that intakes at Smith Mountain Lake are still well below the current lake level, the Stoney Creek reservoir is full and the water authority can buy water from Lynchburg if needed. The authority serves a population of approximately 30,133 people.
Many of our southeastern surface water systems are seeing above average flows in their sources at this time.
VDH-ODW’s Drought Monitoring map and trend are illustrated below. The map reflects the percentage of public surface water sources operating under drought restrictions within the main river basins of Virginia. The trend shows the amount of waterworks that have been affected by drought conditions since March 2002. Click the illustrations to access the file.
Other useful links
- DEQ Drought Status, Tools, Other Resources and Full Drought Report
- EPA Tools on Drought Response and Recovery for Water Utilities
- National Drought Monitor (Virginia)
- NOAA-NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service
- NOAA-NWS Climate Prediction Center
- USGS Groundwater Watch
- USGS Surface Water real-time stream flows