Westchester County has experienced several major droughts which have significantly affected its residents and businesses. Even with major improvements to our water supply systems, the possibility of shortfalls and water emergencies always exists. Therefore the county has developed a drought emergency contingency plan using information, data and experience compiled from past events.

Local Law 9 – 1996, titled Chapter 693 - Water Conservation is the latest version of mandated water use restrictions during drought emergency conditions, including required conservation measures and penalties for violations. The law also created a Drought Emergency Task Force to establish administrative procedures and to monitor compliance with the county's Water Conservation Program. The drought emergency contingency plan includes these drought condition phases:

Drought Watch The initial step, a "Drought Watch", may be announced by the County Executive when the depletion of reservoir storage, current meteorological condition and long range forecasts suggest that normal consumption rates will result in a more serious shortage.

The object of the "Drought Watch" announcement is to reduce consumption by encouraging voluntary conservation and to create public awareness of depleted storage levels and anticipated adverse developments.  At this point it is important to raise the consciousness level of the area's water users.

Drought Warning

If storage levels continue to decrease and conditions deteriorate, yet the capacity of the reservoirs to recover within a short period of time exists, a "Drought Warning" may be announced.

During this stage, voluntary conservation efforts are encouraged, public awareness programs are intensified, the County takes a lead role in encouraging conservation, and planning activities commence in the event that a Drought Emergency is declared.

During the "Drought Warning", the County Executive would initiate an outreach program to the public for voluntary water conservation.

Drought Emergency

If the drought continues and/or voluntary conservation measures are ineffective, the County Executive may assume emergency powers by declaring a "Drought Emergency" under Local Law 9-1996.

Normally, the County Executive declares the existence of a drought in Westchester County following the receipt of a report or recommendation from the Westchester County Water Agency.

Local Law 9-1996 empowers the County Executive to restrict the wasteful, inefficient or non-essential use of water, establish penalties for violations, and provide for the enforcement of water conservation measures.

The current water supply status, actual precipitation levels, success of conservation measures and long and short range meteorological forecasts allow the County Executive to declare a drought emergency in three distinct phases which require progressively more stringent restrictions and regulations. 

  • Phase I is the Declaration of a Drought
  • Phase II is the Declaration of a Severe Drought
  • Phase III is the Declaration of an Extreme Drought

See a map of Major Water Suppliers and Districts in Westchester County

The Water Conservation Hotline is (914) 813-5436.