Maryland environmental officials have placed the Eastern Shore under a drought warning, encouraging water systems, residents and businesses to restrict water use.
The warning is based on rainfall levels slipping to 70 percent of normal and well levels dropping well below normal. Some streams measured as indicators are at less than 5 percent of normal flow, considered "emergency" levels, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment.
Central Maryland, not including the area tapped into Baltimore's water system, remains under a drought watch.
In a drought warning, MDE requires weekly evaluations of drought conditions, encourages voluntary water use restrictions and requires heightened maintenance and repairs for water systems in government buildings.
"If every Marylander takes even small steps, like fixing leaks, using appliances that save water and waiting to run the dishwasher until it's full, we really can make a difference," MDE Secretary Robert Summers said in a statement.
Much of the Eastern Shore is in what the U.S. Drought Monitor considers "severe" drought, with 29 percent of Maryland under that classification as of July 31. More than half of Maryland is in at least a moderate drought, about 52 percent.
It is the first time since September 2010 that a part of Maryland is under a drought warning. Then, it was Western Maryland suffering in dryness. The Eastern Shore was last under a drought watch in June 2010.
Rural parts of Central Maryland remain in a drought watch because well levels remain below normal, but rainfall levels are within what are considered normal limits across the region.
At BWI Marshall Airport, 16.71 inches of rain have fallen this year, short of the 25 inches normal for the year to date at this point.