A drought is a period of unusually persistant dry weather that persists long enough to cause serious problems such as crop damage and/or water supply shortages. The severity of the drought depends upon the degree of moisture deficiency, the duration, and the size of the affected area.
Droughts are unique among natural disasters. We don’t know we’re in a drought until weeks after it begins, making preparation difficult. Once a drought is underway, water conservation is the only way we can lessen its effect.
If a severe drought occurs in your area, your local government may implement rules regarding water usage.
Water Conservation Tips
- Water your lawn only when it needs it. To find out, step on your grass. If it springs back when you lift your foot, it doesn’t need water and you can set your sprinklers for more days in between watering. Better yet, especially in times of drought, water with a hose.
- Adjust your sprinklers so that water lands on your lawn or garden where it belongs, not on sidewalks or driveways.
- Water during the cool parts of the day. Early morning is better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus.
- Don’t water the lawn on windy days — water evaporates more quickly.
- Don’t leave the hose running while washing your car. Use a bucket of water and a quick hose rinse at the end.
- Fix leaky faucets and plumbing joints.
- Clean driveways and sidewalks by sweeping, not by using the hose.
- Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to slow down evaporation.
- If you have a pool, use a pool cover to cut down on evaporation.
- Use a rain barrel to collect stormwater runoff from downspouts for reuse.
- Landscape with native plants that require less water.
- Install water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors.
- Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. If you wash dishes by hand, don’t leave rinse water running.
- Take shorter showers.
- Chill drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the tap run.
- Capture tap water. While you wait for hot water to come down the pipes, catch the flow in a watering can to use later on house plants or your garden.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving.
- Don’t defrost frozen foods with running water. Plan ahead by placing frozen items in the refrigerator overnight or defrost them in the microwave.
Heat safety tips
The impacts of a drought can be compounded by extreme heat waves. Visit our Extreme Heat page for more information on how to be prepared for dangerously hot weather.