BOSTON — Scattered storms, a patchwork of drying conditions since May, above normal temperatures, the tenth warmest summer on record, and quick-moving cold fronts producing only light rainfall have all lead to drying conditions across the Commonwealth. As a result, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides today declared a Level 1 – Mild Drought in the Connecticut River Valley Region and a Level 0-Normal conditions in all other regions. In addition, elevated drying conditions are being noticed in sub-regional areas such as the Deerfield, Housatonic, Boston Harbor and Nashua River basins and conditions in these areas will be closely monitored. A Level 1 – Mild Drought, as outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, warrants detailed monitoring of drought conditions, close coordination among state and federal agencies, and technical outreach and assistance for the affected municipalities.
“Even with recent rain events occurring throughout Massachusetts, the Baker-Polito Administration continues to closely monitor below normal dry conditions that the state has experienced over the course of several months,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “It is important that residents and businesses practice water conservation methods to be prepare for, and effectively minimize, the impacts of a potential long-term drought.”
While the Commonwealth recently experienced a Nor’easter, precipitation amounts were not enough to completely overturn the deficit in precipitation or other indices. The declaration was the result of a recommendation issued from a recent meeting of the Drought Management Task Force (DMTF), composed of state and federal officials, and other entities, and will remain in effect until water levels return to normal in the affected region.
EEA recently completed a two-year process and updated the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan to better assess drought conditions across the state and maximize the state’s ability to prepare for and respond to a drought. The Plan also provides guidance to communities on drought preparedness and outlines response actions that can be taken at the local level.
The state continues to intensely monitor and assess the drought situation, and any associated environmental and agricultural impacts. Task Force officials also noted a patchwork of drying conditions in other pockets across the state, although it did not warrant a drought declaration at those regions. The state asks those residing or working in the Connecticut River Valley and the Housatonic and Nashua River basins to be mindful of the amount of water they are using, and to reduce indoor water use, address plumbing leaks as soon as possible. All these steps will help reduce water use to ensure essential needs such as drinking water and fire protection are being met, and habitats have enough water to recover.
For Region in Level 1 – Mild Drought
Residents and Businesses:
- Minimize overall water use;
- Reduce outdoor watering to no more than one day per week and before 9:00am or after 5:00pm; and
- Limit watering with a handheld hose to before 9:00am or after 5:00pm.
- Establish a year-round water conservation program that includes public education and communication;
- Provide timely information to local residents and businesses;
- Check emergency inter-connections for water supply; and
- Develop a local drought management plan.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) continues to provide technical assistance to communities on managing systems, including assistance on use of emergency connections and water supplies, as well as assisting towns on how to request a declaration of drought emergency.
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) water supply system is not currently experiencing drought conditions, as defined within its individual plan.
The declaration of a Level 1 – Mild Drought requires the Drought Management Task Force to meet on a regular basis to more closely assess conditions across the state, coordinate dissemination of information to the public, and help state, federal and local agencies prepare any responses that may be needed in the future. The Task Force will next meet in November. For further information on water conservation and what residents can do, visit the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ drought page, the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s drought management page, and the MassDEP Water Conservation page.
–Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
For more articles out of New England, click here.