Sharon McCamy, Vice Chairman, Lee District                      April 15, 2002

Department, Organization                                                     Board of Supervisors

Or Person Making Request                                                           Meeting Date

Anthony I. Hooper, Assistant County Administrator

Staff Representative

TOPIC:                       Drought Awareness

The work session is intended to provide general background information concerning the drought conditions in Virginia and the northeast.  The following assessment by the Office and Emergency Services is in process regarding the current drought situation within Fauquier County:

Domestic Water Supply:

1.      Municipal

-         WSA

-         Town of Warrenton: No problems noted

-         Town of Remington

2.      Private

-         Wells

-         The older/shallow wells are at highest risk

-         New and deeper wells are being drilled as a result

-         Private communities system wells

Fire Protection Supply:

1.      Municipal – Hydrants

2.      Rural

-         Static Sources (ponds)

-         Most are very low, in some cases measured in feet below normal

-         Dry Hydrants

-         Many are ineffective due to the low level of water

Dry Conditions: - Threat Assessment for “wild Drought Awareness land fires” (Chuck Kuhler, Virginia Department of Forestry)

Agricultural Concerns: (Peter Mitchell)

1.      Water supply for animals

2.      Crops affected

3.      Damage assistance 


The Virginia Department of Emergency Management provided the following information (March 3, 2002):


Stream flows are well below normal; expect to set new monthly minimum stream flows for March for over 50% of streams in Virginia; now seeing conditions normally seen in September.  Current ground water conditions are not yet as low as those of the 1930’s.


Reservoirs are down (Smith Mountain Lake should be full now – it’s not – normally release 600 cfs – now releasing only 250 cfs; Kerr Reservoir, while stable, is now one foot below guide curve – expect to be six to seven feet below the guide curve by end of March; Moonmaw/Gathright only has 25% of conservation pool remaining – 75% has been used – this has never happened before at this time of year; Lake Anna is only releasing one-half of its normal amount.


No significant precipitation is forecast.  We are now entering the time of year for scattered thunderstorm type rains, versus prolonged significant (coastal or cyclonic type) rains.  Cold front passages will bring dry windy conditions.

State Climatologist:

Situation is worst West of Route 29 and in Northern Virginia; It will only take another couple of months to exceed 1960’s level of dryness.  We need to think about “worst case” scenario (based upon 1930’s drought) and adjust to today’s population, etc.


Have received eleven requests for Agricultural Drought Disaster designation from localities; Goochland has already been declared by USDA; requests are due to poor pasture conditions and lack of water for livestock – crop losses are not included and too early to tell actual impact on crops (typically poor soil moisture=poor crop yield); (USDA) concern is that not much winter small grains were planted last year and poor soil content this year may delay or cancel summer planting; Concern is that farmers are losing water supplies and are using up stored hay supplies more quickly – so they will either have to buy hay/water or sell their stock (at poor price); note that most federal Agricultural disaster aid is focused on crops not livestock losses.


Seed planted in winter not germinating well; pastures will be over-seeded this spring, if moisture content improves.


No affects on public ground water supply systems noted at this time; there are several systems on either mandatory or voluntary restrictions; hardest hit area of state appears West of Route 29.


Expect significant impacts on recreational activities; concerned about fire hazards on department owned lands and about spring hunting season; already seeing impacts on fish stocking programs.


Spring fire season (and busiest two month period for fire activity) is here; have had significant increase in fires since 2nd week of February; (Since January have had three times the normal number of fires over a five to ten year average); due to overall dry conditions it is difficult to move resources around to assist on fires (entire state has potential); Real potential to need National guard assistance with troops and helicopters to fight fires, in addition to normal use of other state and federal resources.


Are getting indications of private well problems in many areas, but no indications of public water system problems yet; VDEM is updating procedures to send localities for assessment of potable water shortages, has asked DGS to update list of companies willing to provide bottled water and bulk water to state and local governments on short notice, and are staying in contact with DACS to monitor overall status of drought problem (both agricultural and otherwise); Executive Order 87 (01) Governor’s Declaration of Emergency was issued in October 2000 and is still in effect; recommend DMTF brief Cabinet by end of this month on situation and discuss courses of action they might want/need to take, including funding issues; note that the federal agricultural disaster designation is different from a federal major disaster or emergency declaration normally handled through VDEM – this can be confusing to local officials.


The work session will provide an opportunity for review and comments concerning the current drought situation within Fauquier County and the Commonwealth of Virginia.