Stafford County, as well as the rest of Virginia, received minimal rainfall over the last two months and high temperatures along the way. This situation has caused stream flows and groundwater levels around the state to be below normal. As a result, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued a drought watch advisory.
Stafford officials are asking residents to take this watch seriously and to familiarize themselves with the information below on voluntary measures they can take during the drought watch to help conserve water. A drought watch is issued to increase public awareness of climate conditions that typically come before and can lead to a significant drought event.
Throughout the drought watch, all Stafford County citizens are strongly encouraged to take the following voluntary steps to protect current water supplies. As well, many of these tips are just good practice in terms of general water conservation and limiting consumption.
- Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it. For example, use it to water your indoor plants or garden.
- Do not let the faucet run when brushing teeth, washing your face or shaving.
- Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year.
- Check all plumbing for leaks and have any leaks repaired by a plumber.
- Start a compost pile as an alternative method of disposing of food waste (kitchen sink disposals require much water to operate properly).
- Install a toilet displacement device to cut down on the amount of water needed to flush. Place a one-gallon plastic jug of water into the tank to displace toilet flow (do not use a brick, it may dissolve, and loose pieces may cause damage to the internal parts). Be sure installation does not interfere with the operating parts.
- Consider rainwater harvesting where practical.
- Use mulch to maintain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps to control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.
- Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs, and trees. Once established, plants adapted to your local climate do not need water as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering. Small plants require less water to become established. Group plants together based on similar water needs in your yard.
- Raise the lawnmower blade to at least three inches or its highest level. A higher cut encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system, and holds soil moisture.
More information on current drought conditions and water conservation tips can be found at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx or www.staffordcountyva.gov/waterwatch.
*The drought watch will not impact Stafford's water pipe and hydrant flushing schedule in south Stafford at this time. Officials are monitoring the situation with DEQ.