As we approach rainy season again with this early spring, is it time to brace ourselves for another record rainfall like last year? With all of that water having replenished ground and reservoirs, greenery and trees definitely had a lush year. Interestingly enough, those trees hold a lot of history here in Chester County, PA (home of H2O Connected). If you’ve ever seen a tree stump, you would recognize the different dark and light rings that indicate how many spring and fall seasons, respectively, the tree has seen in its lifetime. You can see more than just that, however. Tree rings also act as nature’s resident drought-indicators. The drier the season, the thinner the ring – so the most recent ring of your nearby tree is most likely one of the thicker ones in its history.

So, what does this mean? It goes to show that older trees are pretty great archives for drought patterns in our area. In the past few decades, Chester Country, like many parts of the country, has been affected by multiple drought emergencies in which ground-water levels throughout most of southeastern Pennsylvania fell below average, and in some cases, even hit record lows. Our most recent drought occurred 18 years ago and ended in November of 2002, around 20 years after the drought of 1980, which itself was around 15 years after the drought of 1965.

Every 15-20 years, thin rings appear on the trees. So, where does that pattern put us now in 2020, nearly twenty years after the last drought? Well, it’s difficult to say for sure. What we can say, however, is that one year of record rainfall doesn’t mean that our water supply is in the clear for the foreseeable future. Climate sequences – and tree rings – show that there are larger patterns at hand. As for what to do in any drought phase, here locally the Chester County Water Resources Authority like many other water utilities across the country, have historically placed emphasis on encouraging conservation of water in homes and industry. Mandatory meter checks, restrictions on nonessential water usage, and sometimes even water rationing plans can be enacted in response to dry spell warnings – at least on a larger scale.

But what about a little bit closer to home? All water supply experts stay agreeably firm on one fact: although a drought may not necessarily be in store for southeastern Pennsylvania, it still remains as important as ever that we are vigilant with our water usage – record rainfall or not. As individual members of the community, there are many simple ways to practice personal water conservation – including more consolidated loads in washers, less frequent car washes, shorter showers, and so many more!

And of course, the best solution lies in combating the number one water wasters in the household: leaks. Faucets, showers, dishwashers, laundry, and most of all – running toilets. It’s true! One running toilet with a wide-open flapper in the tank can waste up to 5 gallons of water per minute, leading up to 7200 gallons per day. And leaking toilets, which are more common and more difficult to detect, can do their fair share of damage too. So, when it comes to monitoring water, it’s crucial to be aware of how much water can enter and exit our homes unknowingly. Personal conservation starts small. For example, simply by implementing an efficient leak detecting device, you could save gallons of water with ease and help our water supply all of the time – so that we’ll have it, if and when we need it. Because, we here at H2O Connected, LLC know: water conservation isn’t just a concern to have when the tree rings are thin.