PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (EYEWITNESS NEWS WBRE/WYOU) – It’s been a dry summer and now we’re starting to see the consequences.
36 counties in our state, including all of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania are under a drought watch. The Department of Environmental Protection made the announcement Wednesday and asked for voluntary water conservation in those areas.
Residents on drought watch are asked to reduce their water use by 5-10% or a reduction of three to six gallons of water per day.
Reporter Madonna Mantione spoke with a third-generation farmer and greenhouse owner in Luzerne County for his reaction.
“If you do water mums when they are wilted they will pick up,” said Larry O’malia.
Everything from flowers to fresh produce can be found at Larry O’malia’s farm and greenhouses on North River Street in Plains Township.
“We have marigolds that are still left from the springtime actually,” said O’malia.
Like many farmers across our region, O’malia says dry weather over the summer had an impact on his crops but things are looking up.
“We finally got lucky enough that we were blessed with some rain in a couple different occasions and you could see within 24-48 hours, a change in the way the cabbage was growing, a change in the way the red beets sized up,” said O’malia.
Luzerne County is currently under a drought watch and people are encouraged to cut back on water usage.
While O’malia believes the best water comes from rainfall, he says it’s tough to conserve one of the key resources he relies on.
“We try not to be wasteful for water, but since it is part of the big equation it is something that naturally just comes that we have to do every day. And even when we’re picking produce from the farm we do have to wash the produce before we sell it to you guys,” O’malia said.
Gary Edwards is a loyal customer here.
“I’m a stickler for food as a chef so I always support local whenever I can. Our home fries are made from Pennsylvania potatoes, anything that I can get local, whether it’s the fruit for the fruit cups, whenever I can source locally I always do,” said Edwards.
He says, in times like this, it’s important to support our local farmers.
“They’re the ones that are out there making it happen and I think when it impacts us, it impacts them obviously a lot more then we realize,” said Edwards.
O’malia’s will be set up at the farmer’s market Thursday in Downtown Wilkes-Barre.
The DEP says there are many ways to conserve water at home, including:
Run water only when necessary. Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. Shorten the time you let the water run to warm up before showering.
Run the dishwasher and washing machine less often, and only with full loads.
Water your garden in the cooler evening or morning hours and direct the water to the ground at the base of the plant, so you don’t waste water through evaporation.
Water your lawn only if necessary. Apply no more than 1 inch of water per week (use an empty can to determine how long it takes to water 1 inch). Avoid watering on windy and hot days. This pattern will encourage healthier, deeper grass roots. Over-watering is wasteful, encourages fungal growth and disease, and results in shallow, compacted root systems that are more susceptible to drought.
When mowing your lawn, set the blades to 2-3 inches high. Longer grass shades the soil, improving moisture retention. It also grows thicker and develops a deeper root system, so it can better survive drought.
Check for and repair household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily.
Sweep your sidewalk, deck, or driveway instead of hosing it off.
Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40-50 percent less energy.
Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.
Set up a rain barrel to be ready to repurpose rain when it does fall.
Find more tips at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.