The City of Winchester lifts Drought Emergency while transitioning back to a Drought Warning declaration, suspending water use restrictions.

Fri, 09/15/2023 - 17:00

Over this week, water volumes in the North Fork of the Shenandoah River have increased sufficiently for the City of Winchester to lift the City’s Drought Emergency effective 5:00 p.m. on September 15. Water levels remain low but are now above the threshold that triggered a Drought Emergency declaration, per the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Water Supply Plan and City Municipal Code. 

With the lifting of the Drought Emergency declaration, the City’s water use restrictions prohibiting or restricting water-intensive activities, such as lawn watering, are rescinded until further notice. As of 5 p.m. this afternoon, no water use restrictions will be in effect.

Although water volumes on the Shenandoah have increased moderately, they remain historically low. When the Drought Emergency is lifted this afternoon, the City will transition back to a Drought Warning, the second of three graduated drought stages defined by the Regional Water Supply Plan. To ensure the City’s continued water security, the Drought Warning calls for City residents, businesses, governmental entities, and non-profits to continue to reduce water use by at least 10 percent. 

Community members, including residents, businesses, governmental entities, non-profits, and others, are asked to immediately reduce water usage by at least 10 percent by enacting some or all the following actions:

  • Do not plant new landscaping or grass. 
  • For existing landscaping, keep lawns mowed to two inches or more, use mulch around plants to reduce evaporation, aerate your lawn, and avoid overfertilizing your lawn.
  • Reduce lawn watering to no more than two times a week between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m.
  • Avoid the use of sprinklers and water plants using soil-soakers or drip irrigation. 
  • Place rain barrels under gutter downspouts to collect water for plants, car washing, or general cleaning projects. 
  • Use a brook instead of a hose to clean driveways, walks, and patios. 
  • Do not wash hard surfaces or buildings. 
  • Turn off ornamental fountains unless the water is recycled. 
  • Do not use the garbage disposal. 
  • Only use the automatic dishwasher when the load is full. 
  • Limit showers to five to ten minutes a day per person. 
  • Avoid running water to get a cold temperature. Instead, keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge. 
  • Wrap your hot water heater and pipes with insulating material.
  • Install faucet aerators. 

City staff will monitor water volumes on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River to safeguard the City’s water supply moving forward. A future Drought Emergency declaration may again prove necessary if water volumes decrease, per the Regional Water Supply Plan.