Saturday, June 27, 2020

Drought Conditions in Several Regions of Massachusetts

Low precipitation since May and recent above normal temperatures have led to drying conditions across the Commonwealth and steep declines in streamflow in several regions. As a result, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides declared a Level 2 – Significant Drought in the Northeast, Connecticut River Valley, Western, and Central regions.

At Level 2 – Significant Drought, as outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, conditions are becoming significantly dry and warrant detailed monitoring of drought conditions, close coordination among state and federal agencies, emphasis on water conservation, more stringent watering restrictions, and technical outreach and assistance for the affected municipalities.

“The Baker-Polito Administration continues to closely monitor the very dry conditions, and this drought declaration is an important tool which will help officials on all levels of government to work together to address the drought,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “While the dry conditions continue and as we enter the summer months, we ask residents and businesses to aggressively conserve water and take increased care with any outdoor burning.”

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Samantha Phillips stated, “Because of the increased threat of brush and wildland fires due to the dry conditions, the public is urged to exercise caution when using charcoal grills, matches, and other open flames during outdoor activities and to call 911 immediately if there is a fire to prevent the fire from spreading.”

For Regions in Level 2 – Significant Drought
Residents and Businesses:
Minimize overall water use;
Limit outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans, to be used only after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m. one day a week.

Immediate Steps for Communities:

Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought.

Limit or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; watering during or within 48 hours after measurable rainfall; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; operation of non-recirculating fountains; filling of swimming pools, hot tubs, and backyard informal rinks.

Implement drought surcharge or seasonal water rates.
Establish water-use reduction targets for all water users and identify top water users and conduct targeted outreach to help curb their use.
Short- and Medium-Term Steps for Communities:
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.