Nearly two dozen New York counties have been issued a drought watch by the state Department of Environmental Conservation on Friday as officials urge New Yorkers to voluntarily conserve water. 

"Recent rains across the state were not enough to address the dry conditions that have persisted this year," Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "Local water restrictions and educating residents about how to help conserve our water resources will be crucial steps to help prevent a more severe shortage should conditions worsen."  

The affected counties are mainly in Western New York, the Southern Tier and on Long Island: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genessee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Onondaga, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Suffolk, Tompkins, Wyoming, and Yates.

Under a drought watch, no mandatory restrictions are put in place, but state officials did release a series of voluntary guidelines. That includes watering lawns only when necessary and in the early morning. They also suggest reusing water collected in rain barrels, dehumidifiers or air conditioners to water plants, raising lawn mower cutting heights to create stronger roots and using a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks. 

"Conserving water is important all year long, but particularly during extended dry periods like we are experiencing now," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "DEC will continue to monitor water conditions as the summer continues and work with our partners to help address the short-term water issues leading to this watch and the longer-term impacts of climate change on our everyday lives."