Lincoln County is among 27 counties in Kentucky now under a water shortage watch issued by the Energy and Environment Cabinet today.
Citizens living in areas under the watch should closely monitor local news sources for notification from water suppliers on reducing demands for water, according to a news release.
A Water Shortage Watch is issued when drought conditions have the potential to threaten the normal availability of drinking water supply sources. Officials at the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) study rainfall amounts, reservoir levels, streamflows, the Palmer Drought Index and the Drought Monitor when determining drought status.
Information from the EEC shows a monitoring point in Lincoln County has received just 16 percent of the rainfall normally expected over the last 30 days and 59 percent of the normal rainfall expected over the last 60 days.
Lincoln is one of 84 Kentucky counties with burn bans currently in place, according to the Kentucky Forestry Department.
Some rain fell in Stanford and the Halls Gap area Thursday afternoon, as ominously black clouds passed through the area, but Lincoln County Fire Chief Danny Glass said other areas of the county like McKinney saw no rain at all.
While soil moisture levels in Lincoln are still about average according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the county is classified as being in a level 1 moderate drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor service.
All Kentuckians should increase their awareness of the current drought situation and prepare to make adjustments to their water use, said Drought Coordinator Bill Caldwell.
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
Caldwell explained that 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, he said, adding that 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, Caldwell said. Citizens across the Commonwealth should heed local water suppliers’ requests for water conservation when local advisories are issued, he said.
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, Caldwell said.
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,” Foster said. “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.”
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,” Caldwell said.
Editor's note: information from Kentucky Press News Content Service.