State warns of water shortage as drought expected to keep its grip another three months
A ban on outdoor burning remains in effect in Letcher County after four
wildfires burned more than 200 acres during the past week.
Meanwhile, officials with the National Weather Service say the current drought conditions are expected to continue for at least three more months.
Officials with the Kentucky Division of Forestry say a fire which burned 70 acres at Fishpond Lake near Payne Gap was brought under control at 8:40 a.m. Monday, about six hours after it began.
Other forest fires destroyed 50 acres at Joe’s Branch, near Jenkins, and 70 acres at Bicycle Lane, near Marlowe.
The Letcher Volunteer Fire Department put out a one-acre fire at Carbon Glow on October 17.
In a related matter, the Kentucky Division of Water has issued a water shortage warning for all of Letcher County, the Elkhorn Creek watershed in Pike County, and all of Harlan County because of droughtrelated water supply shortages.
A precipitation deficit of 16 to 18 inches has resulted in low-flow conditions in creeks that are the sources Drought conditions in the southeastern region of Kentucky are currently categorized as “exceptional” by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center indicates that there will be no significant likelihood for improvement over the next three months.
A water shortage warning alerts citizens in the affected area that the availability of water has reached a critically low level and that a shortage of potable water may result. Citizens in the warning area should reduce water use and make every effort to participate fully in all water shortage response actions.
Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward said the 24-hour ban on outdoor burning remains in effect in the county even though Governor Ernie Fletcher late last week lifted a statewide burning ban that had been in place since October 4. Fletcher urged county and city officials to leave local burning bans in place where conditions were still dry.
Ward said the burning ban won’t be lifted in Letcher County until an adequate amount of rainfall is received.
Forestry officials expect Fletcher to reinstate the statewide burning ban if more rain doesn’t fall on the region soon.
“We are just getting started with what is shaping up to be one of the most serious fire seasons ever,” said Leah MacSwords, KDF division director. “Dry conditions can return quickly following a few days of rain-free weather.”
Letcher is one of 35 counties that had already
implemented a local burning ban before Fletcher issued the statewide ban.