Daviess County and its surrounding counties are currently in a level two drought and have a burn ban in place, according to Daviess County Emergency Management. Seventy-eight counties across the state currently fall under level one drought conditions, while 42 counties are at a level two.
These drought levels have been issued by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Office of the State Climatologist, in coordination with the Kentucky drought mitigation team.
“A level two drought declaration has been issued for areas in eastern, central and parts of western Kentucky and could lead to substantial agricultural losses, diminished stream flows in small streams and rivers and increases in the occurrence of wildfires,” Daviess County’s EMA stated.
Even more, if the lack of rain persists across Daviess County, it could affect the water utilities’ ability to provide clean drinking water to the community.
“If drought conditions persist, it is expected that some water utilities will have difficulty treating water and may begin issuing conservation advisories or implementing water-use restrictions due to limited water supplies,” said EMA Director Andy Ball in a press release.
Matt Dixon, staff meteorologist and data coordinator with the University of Kentucky Agriculture Weather Center, said data showed the state of Kentucky averaged only .28 inches of rain during the month of September.
“The forecast shows relief from the record heat beginning later this week, but the long-term outlooks indicate below-normal precipitation for the next 30 days,” Ball said.
As of now, OMU has stated they do not have any concerns with water shortages or treatment at this time.
Daviess, McClean, Hancock, Henderson, Ohio and Breckenridge Counties are all under burn bans that have been issued by each County’s Judge-Executive.
“In addition to forest fire hazard seasons and outdoor burning regulations enforced by the Kentucky Division of Forestry (KDF), the Kentucky Division for Air Quality and the Kentucky Division of Waste Management, further restrictions may be initiated at the local level through county burn bans and local ordinances,” said Ball. “Violation of a burn ban is a misdemeanor and punishable by law.”
Burn bans generally prohibit the burning of forest, grass, crops, woodlands, marshes or other similar areas, as well as the burning of leaves and debris. Burn bans also prohibit campfires, bonfires and warming fires, as well as open pit cooking and charcoal grilling. The use of fireworks and welding may also be prohibited or regulated.
KDOW says the hot, dry conditions have had a serious impact on agricultural interest, especially when it comes to cattle production.
“Severely diminished pasture conditions have led to limited fall grazing, and in turn, forced many producers to feed winter hay well ahead of schedule,” KDOW said. “Numerous county agents are reporting hay yields cut in half, while moisture availability has put a halt to pasture renovations.”
Kentucky’s fire season for the fall is Oct. 1-Dec. 15.
According to a statement from the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, “During the forest fires season [in Kentucky], even though the precaution required year-round has been taken, it is unlawful for any person to set fire to, or procure another to set fire to, any flammable material capable of spreading fire, located in or within one hundred and fifty feet of any woodland or brushland, except between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., prevailing local time, or when the ground is covered in snow.”