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The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is reminding York County residents the area is still experiencing a drought.

Much of the south-central region of the state is under a drought watch, including York, Adams, Cumberland, Perry, Dauphin, Lebanon and Lancaster counties.

In total, 26 Pennsylvania counties are in a drought watch, while eight counties are under a more severe drought warning for at least the next few weeks, according to a DEP news release.

According to the Pennsylvania Water Science Center, a drought watch is intended to alert officials and residents of the potential for future drought-related problems if no action is taken. A drought warning is declared when a coordinated response to drought conditions is necessary to prevent mandatory water restrictions and water-supply shortages.

“Recent precipitation has improved a number of indicators, but it hasn’t brought these counties to normal status,” DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in the release.

The western part of the state, as well as the northern tier, have fared better and are under no drought restrictions.

After this month’s DEP Drought Task Force meeting, officials decided not to change any of its county drought declarations, according to the release.

The DEP suggests turning off water while brushing teeth and shaving, taking quicker showers and reusing water for plants.

People also are  encouraged to check their homes for leaking pipes and toilets and to only run dishwashers and washing machines once they are fully loaded.

Public water systems also are  implementing voluntary and mandatory water reductions, according to the release.

The DEP Drought Task Force will meet again in early February.

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