Adams County’s regional water situation: Good news and less good news 


The water situation in Adams County has varied from “abnormally dry” to “moderate drought” for most of the year, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. As shown in the map on this page, Adams County is currently “abnormally dry,” which while not good, is better than it could be.
 
Last month, stream flows in Adams County were about a third below their normal rate for Oct. 29, according to the USGS stream gage at East Berlin on the West Conewago Creek. Stream flow at that time was about 50 cubic feet per second (cfs), but should have been about 145 cfs for that date. The graph for that date is shown below.
 

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Adams County’s regional water situation: Good news and less good news  7

This deficit in stream flow indicates that our groundwater levels are well below average.

But on Nov. 22, Adams County received about 2.75 inches of rainfall. It was a perfect storm: moderate rainfall that lasted more than 24 hours, which allowed much of the rain to infiltrate our groundwater. As shown below, the graph from the East Berlin gage shows that after the initial runoff, which lasted three days, the base flow on the stream had increased from the 50 cfs to 70 cfs, which is an improvement, though still below the typical rate of 105 cfs.

drought image 12 3 2023
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Adams County’s regional water situation: Good news and less good news  8

So, thanks to that rain in November, the county made some progress in restoring its groundwater and stream flow, but groundwater levels are still below what they should be.


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Our members test stream water, distribute seedlings, plant trees, and generally work to make Adams County—and all the lands downstream of us—more healthy, beautiful, and hospitable to humans and other species that depend on water to live. Plus we have a lot of fun! Find us at https://www.adamswatersheds.org/

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