ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — As a result of those extreme heat waves we had this summer most New York counties are currently under a drought watch.

“This is real right now, we’ll get through it, but we need New Yorkers to roll up their sleeves and help out,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. A drought watch is the first of four levels of state drought advisories. There’s watch, warning, emergency and disaster. With rainfall being less than normal recently, stream flows and water levels in lakes and reservoirs have fallen. 

Seggos says this isn’t the first time New York has experienced a drought watch. In 2017 New York faced level D3, also known as an extreme drought. “Maybe once or twice in the last 10 years, but to have it happen at this point of the year and also the drought coinciding with this high fire danger really presents a unique and dangerous opportunity for fires unfortunately to take hold in New York State,” said Seggos.  

The Commissioner along with Governor Hochul has urged New Yorkers to watch the amount of water they use, if possible reduce watering your lawn, and be mindful if you go camping – make sure to put out any camp fires that could pose a risk to starting a wildfire. 

During droughts, residential wells and springs are usually the first drinking water supplies to run dry. It’s common practice in New York to truck water to residents in need. Drought expert, Richard Tinker says the main cause for concern are for places like California or Texas, “In New York it looks like there’s no problems with water supplies as of yet, we’re very fortunate in this part of the country to have a very wet climate so even if things are even dryer we tend to be able to keep up with water supplies. Main problem would come to stream flows or agriculture does not get the rain that they need so those get a bit stressed,” said Tinker.