By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY January 1, 2002 The possibility of a serious drought seems to be getting worse.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) has officially declared a drought watch for the citys water supply system, including the Neversink and Rondout reservoirs in Sullivan County.
The announcement follows a drought warning issued by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) last month for 13 counties in southeastern New York, including Sullivan County.
The drought watch for the citys supply system was spurred by the realization by DEP officials that only a 50 percent chance exists that any of the reservoirs feeding New York City will reach their full capacity by June.
The Rondout and Neversink reservoirs, which make up the Delaware System along with the Pepacton and Cannonsville reservoirs, are among those not estimated to fill by June 1.
The Delaware System supplies approximately half of the citys entire water supply.
Below average rainfall over the past several months has contributed to the problem, and this summer, the city released record amounts of water to maintain the flow on the Delaware River.
Even water conservation measures put in place by New York City and the DEP over the last 10 years havent been able to completely counteract the recent water shortage.
Despite some inflow to the reservoirs from recent precipitation, the drought line was crossed Saturday, Dec. 23, said DEP Commissioner Joel Miele in a press release issued by the DEP. That means all of us who rely on the citys water supply over 8 million consumers in the city and another million in four upstate counties must make concerted efforts to conserve water.
Residents are being encouraged to do whatever they can to reduce water usage and increase efficiency.
Shorter showers, turning off the water faucet while shaving, not running half-empty loads of laundry or dishes and fixing leaky faucets can all help to save thousands of gallons of water.