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The Roanoke Valley is now under a state-declared “drought watch” even though its two main water sources are almost 90% full. But state officials say it’s a different story in streams and underground, where groundwater levels have been 90 % below normal for the last 60 days. WFIR’s Evan Jones has the story.

08-16 Drought Watch Wrap2-WEB

(Continue reading for the full Department of Environmental Quality news release.)

RICHMOND, VA. – The Department of Environmental Quality has issued a “drought watch” advisory for the Roanoke River region that includes Patrick, Franklin, Roanoke, Henry, Bedford, Pittsylvania, Campbell, Halifax, Charlotte, and Mecklenburg counties; the cities of Bedford, Danville, Martinsville, Salem and Roanoke; and the towns of Altavista, Brookneal, Charlotte Court House, Drakes Branch, Keysville, Phenix, Boones Mill, Rocky Mount, Halifax, Scottsburg, South Boston, Virgilina, Ridgeway, Boydton, Broadnax, Chase City, Clarksville, La Crosse, South Hill, Stuart, Chatham, Gretna, Hurt and Vinton. Specific factors contributing to this advisory are:

• Scattered summer rainfall patterns have produced less than 75 percent of normal rainfall over much of the region for more than 60 days.
• Stream flows have continually been 75 percent less than historic flows for nearly one month.
• Ground water levels have been 90 percent below historic levels for most of the past 60 days.

Through the drought watch advisory, Virginia is encouraging localities, public water suppliers and self-supplied water users in these regions to voluntarily take these steps to help protect current water supplies:

• Minimize nonessential water use.
• Review existing or develop new local water conservation and drought contingency plans and take conservation actions consistent with those plans.
• Include water conservation information on local websites and distribute water conservation 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 use restrictions when consistent with local water supply conditions.
• Aggressively pursue leak detection and repair programs.

Statewide information on the current drought status is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.