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 HARRISBURG, Pa., March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Lt. Gov. Mark S. Singel

today told the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Council that drought conditions continue to be very serious statewide.
 "The situation is slowly getting worse," said Singel, who serves as chairman of the council. "We have not had enough precipitation this winter to recharge the water supplies that were drastically drawn down by the early stages of the drought last year."
 According to the lieutenant governor, the cumulative rainfall deficits and ground water levels signal worsening drought conditions.
 "People need to understand how potentially disastrous conditions are," Singel said. "This is the time of year when it's supposed to rain in order to replenish reservoirs and water tables for heavy summer use.
 "When it's raining, people assume the drought is over. In fact, the rain we are getting is below normal for this time of year and the drought is getting worse."
 John McSparran, director of Water Resources Management for the Department of Environmental Resources, reported an 11 inch average rainfall deficit statewide with several counties now at the 13 inch level.
 According to McSparran, Pennsylvania is the center of the drought developing in the eastern United States.
 In 1991, the drought hit all parts of the state except the southeast corner. The greater Philadelphia area is now beginning to experience significant rainfall deficits. The six-county area in the southeast is averaging 3.5 inches below normal precipitation since the first of the year and almost six inches below normal over the past year. The southeast, however, remains the section of the state with the least deficit rainfall.
 "With spring only two weeks away, it is imperative that the public understand the problems we face over the next several months," Singel said. "Public conservation and responsible water resource management is essential."
 The lieutenant governor urged farmers to contact their county agricultural extension agent to plan their 1992 crops.
 Crop loss last year exceeded $600 million. Of the 53,000 farm families in Pennsylvania, 11,000 farmers are expected to file drought disaster claims with the federal government for losses in 1991.
 Singel said that federal disaster aid to farmers is unpredictable and encouraged farmers to protect themselves by purchasing crop insurance.
 "The National Weather Service is predicting below normal rain for the next 90 days," Singel said. "Any steps that can be taken now to protect our water supplies and to reduce the drought's impact on farm products should be pursued."
 Singel told the council that workshops will be conducted across the state by the Department of Environmental Resources over the next month for water system managers. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is also working with several county emergency management agencies to conduct drought workshops with county drought task forces and local government officials.
 "While we can't control Mother Nature, we can take steps now to reduce the drought's impact on our communities this summer," Singel said.
 Mandatory restrictions on non-essential water uses remain in effect in 44 counties under an drought emergency declaration issued by Gov. Robert P. Casey on July 24, 1991. A drought emergency is the most severe of three drought classifications.
 Violation of the restrictions is a summary offense punishable by a fine up to $500 or 90 days in jail.
 The counties affected by the various drought stages are:
 Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Bradford, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Dauphin, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Perry, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren and Wayne.
 Adams, Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Columbia, Cumberland, Delaware, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Sullivan, Philadelphia, Washington, Westmoreland, Wyoming and York.
 -0- 3/9/92
 /CONTACT: Veronica Varga of the Office of the Lt. Governor, 717-787-3300, or John Comey of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Council, 717-783-8150/ CO: Pennsylvania Emergency Management Council ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:

MK -- PH054 -- 6632 03/09/92 18:03 EST
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Date:Mar 9, 1992

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