Experts fret over water levels in Western Pa.
By Rick Wills
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012
The drought plaguing the eastern part of the state hasn't reached Western Pennsylvania, but the Pittsburgh region is dry enough that it's beginning to worry water-management authorities and meteorologists.
Rivers in this region now have water levels typically seen in August and the Army Corps of Engineers said it is having difficulty filling some of the 16 reservoirs it manages in the Upper Ohio River basin, including Conemaugh River Lake in Indiana County and Youghiogheny Lake in Fayette County.
"We are concerned about the next several months. If this trend continues, we'll have less water available in the summer. We count on that water to provide flows for navigation and to mitigate pollution," said Werner Loehlein, chief of water management for the Army Corps in Pittsburgh.
Alex Sosnowski, a meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, said Western Pennsylvania is in better shape than the eastern part of the state partly because it had more rain in March. But, he said, "If we don't get some decent rainstorms, it will be difficult to make up for this once summer starts."
Conditions in central and eastern sections of the state are the most severe and have resulted in brush and forest fires and burn bans in several counties.
More than 140 fires have burned 1,201 acres in the state so far this year, according to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Last week, wildfires broke out in Berks, Chester, Dauphin and McKean counties. Three fires, including the Berks County fire and earlier fires in Luzerne and Cameron counties, each burned more than 100 acres.
On Wednesday, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission suspended withdrawals of water at 17 sites because of stream flow levels dropping throughout the Susquehanna basin. Much of the area is designated as in official drought.
The majority of those suspended withdrawals are for natural gas companies drilling in Bradford, Luzerne, Susquehanna, Tioga and Lycoming counties, the commission said in a statement.
Suspending water supplies to natural gas companies on the west side would not be considered until there is a drought declaration, said John Poister, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.
No single commission oversees the Pittsburgh region's rivers, and the state controls any restrictions on water use.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Congressional races set for Pennsylvania
- 2 Democrats challenge for congressman’s seat in 12th District
- Filings leave Corbett facing new challenge
- Sandusky’s wife says she believes he’s innocent
- Gas tax could factor into Pennsylvania gubernatorial race
- Pennsylvania man pleads guilty to threat against Obama
- Military veteran ID cards granted on honor system
- Pennsylvania drug program portrayed as a life-saving tool
- Retired Pa. Game Commission chief to get $220K severance payment
- Contract arranged Pennsylvania Game Commission director’s early exit
- GOP says privatizing LCB could aid budget