Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Friday declared a drought watch for the state as low rainfall and record-breaking high temperatures are anticipated to produce a “significant drought event.”
Northam said in a statement that water suppliers, self-supplied water users and all Virginians should begin preparations for a potential drought as more than half the state experiences a water deficit.
“While water conservation activities during a drought watch are generally voluntary, we encourage localities and individuals across Virginia to heed this warning and take necessary steps to monitor their water usage,” said Northam.
A drought warning is the next step after a drought watch. Government officials said that if a drought warning is issued, water conservation and contingency plans that are already in place or prepared during a drought watch will take effect.
“Higher temperatures and less consistent precipitation patterns driven by climate change are making extreme weather like droughts more prevalent around the world, and Virginia is no exception,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler. “Governor Northam and our administration are taking steps to monitor and mitigate drought impacts and address the causes and symptoms of climate change.”
The drought has already impacted pastures where cattle and other livestock feed, with the latest Department of Agriculture crop report showing that 71 percent of those fields in Virginia are in poor or very poor shape, according to The Associated Press.