The recent heavy rainfall throughout York and Lancaster counties could be a "drought buster," said Lancaster County Water and Sewer Director Mark Knight.
Between three and six inches of rain fell in the township last week, thanks to the remnants of tropical storm Fay. The rain quickly filled many local streams and creeks, even covering two bridges in Indian Land and causing portions of Barberville and Harrisburg roads to be closed last Wednesday.
Water levels in Lake Wylie rose three feet; However, the lake remains below full pond, which is 570 feet above sea level.
Although the rain was an inconvenience for some, it may prove to be just what is needed to end the drought once and for all, Knight said. It will take about a month before officials learn whether the surface water will affect the ground water, which needs to rise dramatically in order for the drought to officially be declared over.
The groundwater had begun to recede before the drought, Knight added.
"It's not a small step," said Knight. "It's a huge step in the right direction. But, a lot of this water ran off from the flooding and all. But it did fill up our lakes and allow us to generate stream flow which are two very important factors."
Terry Benthall, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, cautioned that the drought would likely persist despite the heavy rains.
"It may be a start," he said. "It's not a silver bullet. It's not going to wipe it out yet."
Several drenching storms and regular rainfall are needed to alleviate the drought situation, Benthall said.
Water restrictions remain in effect for both York and Lancaster County. Officials will continue to monitor groundwater levels, Knight said. "If it stops again and we don't get any for two months, there will be a concern but we're hoping we're in a pattern now for cooler temps. Add rainfall and it moves us right on out of the drought. That's what our hope is," Knight said.
The Herald and the Charlotte Observer contributed to this story.