The River Report – Over 90% of the basin drought conditions
Our rain deficit continues to grow as we get further into the fall season without precipitation. We are 7.8 inches below average for the past year.
The U.S. Drought Monitor released this morning shows over 90% of the basin in abnormally dry conditions or worse. Almost 8% of the basin is in Extreme Drought conditions.
The current flow is below the 10th percentile, as seen in the graph of the Adjusted Daily Flow at Little Falls. The trend is worrying. The graph includes data from previous pre-drought years as reference points, these being years that led to significant reservoir releases. This year’s adjusted flow closely aligns with the seasonal flows observed in those past years that eventually led to significant drought operations.
ICPRB’s CO-OP staff are closely monitoring the situation and keeping stakeholders informed. This includes a daily report as well as publishing a supplemental Water Supply Outlook. Traditionally, the monthly Water Supply Outlook is published from April to October. However, due to persistent dry conditions, staff published an additional November report.
Partnerships Protecting the Potomac
ICPRB organized two important gatherings last week…
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN ADVISORY COMMITTEE: The Comprehensive Plan is in the process of a 5-year review thanks to the advisory committee, which is a diverse group of stakeholders helping shape the vision for the future of the Potomac River and its related resources. Last week the group met to give their feedback on the current draft of the 5-year update, which should be finalized and published in the spring.
POTOMAC RIVER BASIN DRINKING WATER SOURCE PROTECTION PARTNERSHIP (DWSPP): Last week’s annual meeting celebrated the work of this important coalition of water utilities and government agencies working together to protect our drinking water. Presentations included:
- Conservation Assessment for Northern VA Watersheds: Developing NVCT’s Strategic Conservation Plan by Matt Gerhart of NVCT
- Toxic Cyanobacteria: Benthic Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) Communities in Shenandoah River: a collaboration with ICPRB and USGS by Dr. Chris Jones of GMU
- Source Water Quality in a Changing Climate: The Case of Disinfection Byproduct Precursors by Dr. Kirin Furst of GMU
After the meeting, Dr. Jones led a tour of the labs at the Potomac Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center. GMU students discussed their work on PFAS, algae, and other important research projects to help protect the Potomac River and its tributaries.
A Dry Walk in the Woods
At our last Walk in the Woods of 2023, we explored the Frederick Municipal Forest. The forest is an important source of drinking water for the City of Frederick, Maryland. We have been doing a Walk in the Woods for many years in the region and typically we have several babbling brooks we carefully cross. Our drought conditions were on full display during last Saturday’s hike when we barely saw a trickle over the dry rocks. Regardless, the hike participants enjoyed a lovely day in the woods learning about forest management, trees, and the interesting history of the Frederick Municipal Forest.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for all of our Walk in the Woods in 2023! We look forward to planning more fun ways to get people out and about to enjoy all the Potomac River basin has to offer.