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'Drought watch' for entire Delaware River Basin

Reservoirs, rainfall down; salt line up.

With precipitation deficits growing, and reservoir levels dropping, the Delaware River Basin Commission Wednesday posted a "drought watch."

The watch applies to the commission's entire coverage area, from the Catskills to the Delaware Bay.

The watch issued by the DRBC shouldn't have much impact around here, since its primary effect would be on water releases from reservoirs.

The entire Philadelphia region already has been placed under drought watch by the New Jersey and Pennsylvania environmental agencies.

A 'watch' phase doesn't trigger any mandatory restrictions.

But the DRBC declaration is one more indicator that the drying conditions are becoming more serious.

The combined storage in the three upstate New York reservoirs is about 40 percent of capacity. The Delaware River "salt  line" is 19 miles north of normal, although still better than 20 miles south of the water-supply intakes.

Precipitation in the Philadelphia region has been a third of normal or less in the last 30 days, according to the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center. In Burlington County, it has been about a fifth of normal.

No significant rain is in the forecast for the next several days, although the government's two-week outlook has the odds favoring above-normal precipitation.