Washington, D.C. − Dry conditions persist throughout metropolitan Washington, but the region’s water supply levels and drought stage are normal according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), which developed and oversees the regional Water Supply and Drought Awareness Response Plan. Officials continue to monitor the Potomac River’s water supply and drought conditions on a daily basis. COG’s regional water supply and drought report for September notes that a small portion of Maryland and Northern Virginia are experiencing abnormally dry conditions according to the U.S. Drought Monitor and the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) Water Supply Outlook. In the Potomac River, the region’s primary drinking source, the flow is low but ground water levels remain at normal levels.
Regional water utilities and local governments substantially invested in the region’s drinking water by constructing reservoirs in the early 1980s to provide additional water supply during droughts. Those reservoirs are currently full, and it is unlikely a release will be necessary this year. Water utilities and COG participate in regional drought exercises conducted by ICPRB to be better prepared to manage droughts. These exercises are conducted only in non-drought years. The next regional exercise will begin Wednesday, September 23.
Residents are encouraged to use water wisely now and throughout the year. Wise water use optimizes regional water resources. Officials offer the following seasonal tips for water use:
- Limit the watering of lawns, plants and shrubs;
- Prioritize newly planted trees, shrubs and lawns for watering;
- Weed flower beds and vegetable gardens to limit competition for water;
- Wash cars with a pail and trigger hose or use a commercial carwash;
- Using a broom instead of a hose to clean sidewalks and driveways.
Fire safety and protection are of concern due to dry conditions. Residents are encouraged to use extra caution when smoking outside, using outdoor grills, or engaging in other activities that involve open flames or flammable materials.