Most of the drinking water consumed in the metropolitan area comes from the Potomac River, which is now in its driest part of the year. Low river flows caused the ICPRB Section for Cooperative Water Supply Operations on the Potomac (CO-OP) to begin daily monitoring of river conditions this week. Decreased river flow at the Point of Rocks gage on the Potomac (upstream from drinking water intakes) triggers the first stage of CO-OP drought monitoring, where river flow and, drinking water withdrawals are collected and assessed daily. If conditions continue to worsen, estimates of future demands will be included in the daily assessment. Currently, Point of Rocks gage shows a flow of about 1.16 billion gallons per day. Current water withdrawals for the metropolitan area total about 443 million gallons per day.
The current low river conditions are not unusual for this time of year, and the increased monitoring by CO-OP occurs in many years. The probability that releases of stored water from upstream reservoirs is still small. The enhanced monitoring is a part of a robust system employed by water suppliers, state water managers, and ICPRB to ensure that the region has a reliable source of drinking water even during drought conditions.