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DEQ issues drought advisory for Southern Virginia, Eastern Shore

Virginia DEQThe Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued a drought watch advisory for southern portions of Virginia and the Eastern Shore.

DEQ is notifying local governments, public water works and individual water users in the affected areas to minimize nonessential water use, review or develop local water conservation and drought contingency plans, and take actions consistent with those plans.

A drought watch is intended to increase awareness of conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event and facilitate preparation for a drought. The next stage after a drought watch would be a “drought warning,” which would be issued if conditions warrant. Drought warning responses are called for when the onset of a significant drought event is imminent.

“While conservation activities during a drought watch are voluntary, we encourage everyone to take steps to restrict water use when possible and monitor the latest information from local water authorities,” said DEQ Director David Paylor.

According to the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a work group of state and federal agencies coordinated by DEQ, the primary factors contributing to the advisory are low precipitation across the state over the past 90 days, low stream flows and low groundwater levels compared to previous levels for this time of year.

Throughout the drought watch, localities, water suppliers and self-supplied water users are encouraged to take voluntary steps to protect current water supplies.

  • Minimize nonessential water use.
  • Immediately address any water leaks or needed repairs.
  • Review or develop new local water conservation and drought contingency plans and take actions consistent with those plans.
  • Share information as broadly as possible.
  • Impose water restrictions when consistent with local conditions as identified in drought response and contingency plans.
  • Continue monitoring the condition of public waterworks and self-supplied water systems in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health.
  • For updated information on outdoor burning restrictions and active burn bans, contact the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Virginia’s drought response activities are typically guided by a three-step process. A drought watch is intended to increase awareness of current conditions that are likely to precede a significant drought event. If necessary, the next stage would be a drought warning, which indicates that a significant drought is imminent. If a warning is issued, voluntary implementation of water conservation actions from drought response and contingency plans would begin. Further drought conditions could result in an emergency requiring mandatory water restrictions.

Statewide information on current drought conditions, including the most recent DMTF report, can be found on the DEQ website at

The DMTF is scheduled to next meet on Jan. 6.

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