The U.S. drought of 2012 was the most severe and extensive drought in at least 25 years. The drought rapidly increased in severity from June to July and persisted into August. As of September 12, over 2,000 U.S. counties had been designated as disaster areas by USDA in 2012, mainly due to drought. As of mid-August 2012, 60 percent of farms in the United States were experiencing drought. About 17 percent of farms were in counties where most of the land is under moderate drought; 15 percent of farms were experiencing severe drought; and 28 percent were experiencing extreme or exceptional drought.
CITY WELL CONTAMINATION:
In the U.S., approximately 75 percent of community water systems and nearly all of rural America uses groundwater supplied water systems. As water levels drop during droughts, levels of contamination in groundwater can become more concentrated, leading to potential health risks. Contamination of well water supply generally occurs when polluted surface water or septic systems discharge seep into the groundwater.
Keep a long-term supply of drinking water available and stored regardless if you own a private well or not. Following a disaster, the EPA may deem your city water unsafe for days; therefore having about a gallon of water per person, per day stored in your home to last about two weeks is recommended by FEMA.
PRIVATE WELL CONTAMINATION:
You may think that the drought conditions won’t affect you since you have a private well, but you actually have more responsibilities than your friends and neighbors who are on city water. While public utilities ensure that contaminants in city water are removed to safe levels prior to use, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate private wells, leaving well owners on their own to assure their water is safe from drought-related concentration of contaminants.
For those who do own their own wells, having water stored at all times is essential, especially during a drought where water quality will be contaminated. Well maintenance and tips can be found at: http://www.epa.state.il.us/well-water/well-maintenance-tips.html
Corn in Drought, Western Kentucky, August, 2012 – Photo Courtesy of CraneStation
Excessive heat and prolonged dry or drought conditions can impact agriculture by creating work safety issues for farm workers, severely damaging crops, and reducing the availability of water and food supplies for livestock.
Having emergency food also stored in your house can protect you from dealing with the lack of food supplies or rising costs associated with the smaller supply of food available. Water is needed to prepare a lot of different foods, so it is also important to keep water stored for these types of emergencies.