U.S. Water News Online
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The New York state Department of
Environmental Conservation (DEC) expanded a drought watch for parts
of the state recently, cautioning that groundwater and stream levels
are low because of a lack of rainfall.
Thirteen counties in southeastern New York were added to the eight
counties that have been under a drought watch since late August. The
21 counties in the watch area are in the Chemung, Delaware, Genesee,
Hudson, Mohawk, Ramapo, and Susquehanna river basins.
A watch is the lowest of four levels of drought advisories. State
DEC Commissioner Erin Crotty said there are no mandatory water
restrictions, but residents in the affected areas are advised to
conserve water --particularly if they rely on groundwater wells.
The lack of rain this fall has left some dairy farmers high and
dry in Herkimer County. Keith McNally, the county emergency
management director, said he requested a tanker truck from the State
Office of Emergency Management to deliver water to about a dozen
The truck has been making deliveries to the farms since the end of
August, using water from village hydrants to fill ponds, pools, or
water tanks on farms to supply drinking water for cows, McNally said.
The county has been providing such drought relief to dairy farms for
about six years, he said.
``A lot of creeks are dry and wells are low,'' McNally said.
Some of the larger farms need a 5,500-gallon truckload of water
almost every day, McNally said. A Holstein cow needs about 35 gallons
of water a day for milk production.
``It's certainly dry, no question about it,'' said Dave Balbian, a
regional dairy specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension. ``We
usually get rain in the fall, but not this year.''
While some farmers are facing low water supplies, others have
plenty, Balbian said. ``It tends to be very specific to the farm.
Some have a tremendous well or a spring and aren't having a problem
Rainfall has varied widely around New York state this fall,
National Weather Service hydrologist Bob Kilpatrick said. Parts of
the mid-Hudson Valley had less than half an inch of rain in October,
and the Albany area had a little over an inch. That's well below the
normal range of 3 to 3 1/2 inches in October, he said.
North of Albany, however, rainfall was higher than normal in parts
of the Adirondacks, Kilpatrick said. Old Forge in northern Herkimer
County had more than 4 inches.
Keith Eggleston, a climatologist at Cornell University's Northeast
Regional Climate Center, said the dry areas of the state are in
western New York from Buffalo south through Chautauqua County, as
well as the Southern Tier, Catskills, and southeastern New York.
``Dry conditions around the rest of the state have been alleviated
by rain in the past month,'' Eggleston said.
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