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 October 11 2017, five waterworks are implementing mandatory water use restrictions and five waterworks are implementing voluntary water use restrictions in Virginia.
The Town of Strasburg (PWS ID 2171750) has implemented mandatory restrictions based on the 7-day running average of stream flows in North Fork Shenandoah River. On September 28, the running average was below the 90 cubic feet per second (cfs) mandatory restriction trigger set by Virginia DEQ and continues to be below this threshold. The Town serves a population of approximately 6,489 people.
The Town of Front Royal (PWS ID 2187406) has implemented mandatory restrictions based on the 14-day running average of stream flows in South Fork Shenandoah River. On October 2, the running average was below the 340 cfs mandatory restriction trigger set by Virginia DEQ. The Town serves a population of approximately 15,000 people.
The Town of Orange (PWS ID 6137500) has enacted mandatory restrictions based on water levels in the Rapidan River. These restrictions are also in effect for the Town of Gordonsville and customers living in the area of U.S. 15 between Orange and Gordonsville as these locations receive water from the Town. The Town serves a population of approximately 4,500 people.
Both the Albemarle County Service Authority – Urban Area (PWS ID 2003053) and the City of Charlottesville (PWS ID 2540500) have implemented mandatory restrictions based on designation of a Drought Warning by the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) and decreasing reservoir levels in the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir and Ragged Mountain Reservoir. The Albemarle County Service Authority serves approximately 62,468 people and the City of Charlottesville serves a population of 41,487.
Nelson County Service Authority – Wintergreen (PWS ID 2125910) has implemented voluntary restrictions based on water levels in Lake Monacan. This lake is not owned by the utility and a raw water agreement is in place that stipulates that certain restrictions are issued when the lake drops to specified levels. The waterworks serves a population of approximately 6,714 people.
The City of Winchester (PWS ID 2840500) has implemented voluntary restrictions based on low flow in the North Fork Shenandoah River. River flows were recorded at 61 cfs, which is below the threshold for voluntary Drought Watch status. The City serves a population of approximately 29,368 people.
As of October 10 2017, the City of Richmond (PWS ID 4760100), Henrico County (PWS ID 4087125), and the James River Correctional Center Water Treatment Plant (PWS ID 4075735) have implemented voluntary conservation measures due to low flow in the James River. The 14-day running average in the James River is below the voluntary restriction trigger of 1,200 cfs at the Westham gauge. These restrictions are in effect for the City of Richmond, Henrico County, Hanover County, Chesterfield County, Goochland County, and Powhatan County. The City of Richmond serves a population of approximately 197,000 people, Henrico County serves approximately 292,000 customers, and the James River Correctional Center Water Treatment Plant serves a population of approximately 5,346 people.
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