The high temperatures and limited rainfall has taken its toll on the state. Bill Caldwell, with the Energy and Environment Cabinet, announced a water shortage watch for multiple counties throughout the state.
"Citizens living in these areas should closely monitor local news sources for notification from water suppliers on reducing demands for water," explains Caldwell. "A water shortage watch is issued when drought conditions are present and they have the ability to affect water supplies. Right now we are advising all Kentuckians to increase their awareness of the current drought situation and prepare to make adjustments to their water use."
The following counties, listed by Drought Management Area (DMA), meet the criteria to be included in the water watch:
Barren River DMA - Monroe, Simpson, Warren
Buffalo Trace DMA - Fleming, Robertson
Bluegrass DMA - Anderson, Bourbon, Clark, Estill, Fayette, Franklin, Garrard, Harrison, Jessamine, Lincoln, Madison, Mercer, Nicholas, Scott, Woodford
Cumberland Valley DMA - Whitley
Green River DMA - Webster
Kentucky River DMA - Lee, Owsley
Northern Kentucky DMA - Owen, Pendleton
Pennyrile DMA - Crittenden
Even though Fayette County is on the list, Susan Lancho, with Kentucky American Water, says their company and customers have not been affected. "We are on the list as a precaution," explains Lancho, "but currently we are in good shape. We always advise our customers to be 'green' and cut down on their water usage when they can but currently we are not implementing any cutbacks or bans."
Lancho says that water suppliers are the ones who determine when a ban is in place.
According to the AP, high temperatures combined with precipitation deficits frequently create surges in the demand for water, often exceeding a water supplier's ability to meet that demand. Many communities in the Water Shortage Watch areas have issued local water advisories in response to unusually high demands and reduced raw water supplies. Citizens in the Water Shortage Watch areas should be prepared to reduce water use upon request by their local water supplier.
In areas not included in this Water Shortage Watch, water supply sources remain at acceptable levels, but capacity issues associated with high temperatures and dry conditions have prompted local water advisories in several counties. Citizens across the Commonwealth should heed local water suppliers' requests for water conservation when local advisories are issued.
In all areas of Kentucky, self-supplied individuals on wells or other small sources should avoid excessive water use and report losses of water supply to their county health department.
State climatologist Stuart Foster said "the combined impact of dry conditions and extremely hot temperatures at this time is causing a one-two punch."
"An exceptionally dry June throughout the state coupled with some record-high temperatures over the past week have caused drought conditions to intensify and spread eastward to cover most of Kentucky," said Foster. "The current situation is reminiscent of 1988, while there are some indications that persistence of the current hot and dry pattern that would trigger comparisons to droughts from the 1930s."
Agriculture has been particularly hard hit in western Kentucky counties.
"The timing of the drought on corn has already and will continue to reduce yields significantly," said University of Kentucky Agricultural Meteorologist Tom Priddy. "Doubled-cropped soybeans are having a difficult time with germination. Ponds are running low for irrigation purposes and watering of livestock. Western and central locations may be near the point where rain would provide little benefit for corn and soybean growth, development and yield."
DOW Drought Coordinator Bill Caldwell said public water suppliers play a vital role in helping drought specialists monitor the drought's progression.
"Water suppliers in the 27-county watch area and throughout the state should closely monitor their supply sources and notify the Division of Water if water shortages occur," said Caldwell.
Visit the Division of Water website at http://water.ky.gov/wa/Pages/Drought.aspx for information about current drought conditions in Kentucky and water conservation measures. Visit this page to obtain information about how to contact your local health department: http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/LinkstoLocalHealthDepartments.htm.