The following is a republished press release from the Tompkins County Health Department and NOT written by the Ithaca Voice … click here to submit community announcements directly to The Voice, or contact me at

ITHACA, NY — As a result of the prolonged period of low rainfall, the New York State Department of Conservation has issued a drought “watch” for all of New York State. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Tompkins County and much of the Finger Lakes are experiencing severe drought conditions.

Municipal Water Users on Surface Water: Fall Creek and Six Mile Creek, which supply drinking water to Cornell University and the City of Ithaca, are at record low levels. Precipitation from March through June is the lowest on record for Ithaca. Limited water restrictions have been issued for those users on the Cornell water distribution system.

The distribution systems for Cornell, the City of Ithaca and the Southern Cayuga Intermunicipal Water Commission (SCLIWC), commonly called Bolton Point, allow drinking water to be transferred between water systems; however, Bolton Point is already near peak production.

Private Water Users and Municipal Water Users on Groundwater: USGS data shows groundwater levels are lower than normal and steadily dropping. We are concerned that groundwater levels will continue to fall as the drought continues, creating water supply issues for users on wells.

We urge everyone to conserve water.

Water Conservation Tips:

  • Fix leaking faucets and toilets.
  • Install water-saving plumbing fixtures. Modern post 1994 fixtures use less than half the water of pre-1980 fixtures.
  • Run dishwashers and washing machines only when full.
  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Avoid watering lawns, washing vehicles and other non-essential usages.
  • Be conservative about your overall daily use.

For more water-saving tips, check out the EPA Water Sense web page at:

For local updates, visit the Tompkins County Health Department website at:

For more information on the drought:

Northeast region map of drought conditions; updated regularly by the National Drought Mitigation Center:

Northeast Regional Climate Center special report on the drought, July 2016:

(Featured photo by Patrick Denker on Flickr)

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.