Due to several significant rain events occurring throughout most of Massachusetts during late April and early May, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides today announced that conditions have improved in the Northeast and Southeast Regions of the Commonwealth, and declared Level 0-Normal Conditions in each region while the Western, Connecticut River Valley, Central, and Cape Cod Regions remain at a Level 1-Mild Drought, unchanged from last month. The Islands Region remains at a Level 0-Normal Conditions, unchanged from last month.
As outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, a Level 1-Mild Drought warrants detailed monitoring of drought conditions, close coordination among state and federal agencies, and technical outreach and assistance to the affected municipalities. The Southeast Region, which was in a Level 2-Significant Drought last month, saw significant improvement over recent weeks in precipitation, streamflow, and groundwater, leading to a declaration of normal conditions. The Northeast Region, which was in a Level 1-Mild Drought last month, saw improvement in precipitation and groundwater, while streamflow remained steady.
“While recent rain events over the last few weeks have resulted in substantial improvement in the Northeast and Southeast regions, drought conditions remain in many areas of the Commonwealth,” said EEA Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “As we continue to respond to these drought conditions and closely monitor key data points to ensure a full recovery for our natural resources, we urge residents and businesses to be mindful of their water use and to conserve as much water as possible to help protect our local water systems.”
“As we all spend time outdoors this spring, it’s important to remember that parts of the state remain in a drought despite recent improvements and to be aware of the increased risk of brush and forest fires due to the dry conditions,” said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Samantha Phillips. “We urge residents to exercise caution when using backyard fire pits, 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.”
Today’s declarations are the result of a recommendation issued by the state’s Drought Management Task Force, which is composed of state and federal officials, and other entities. The taskforce will continue to meet until water levels return to normal in the affected regions.
As the weather continues to encourage outdoor recreation and the growing season advances, state officials ask the public to be mindful of water use, in particular outdoor water use. The public is recommended to shift to non-lawn/non-grass landscapes, increase plantings of drought tolerant species, and install rain collection systems to help with watering of outdoor plants and vegetable gardens.
During the last 12 months of dry conditions, water supply capacity has not been greatly impacted and remains in good condition due to water conservation measures, which have aided in the reduction of water use, and through natural replenishment of sources. For more information, please visit EEA’s webpages on indoor and outdoor water use. While water supplies are currently doing fine, individuals are encouraged to also follow any additional watering requirements outlined by their community’s Public Water Supplier. Additionally, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) water supply system is not currently experiencing drought conditions, as defined within its individual plan.
For Region in Level 1 – Mild Drought
Residents and Businesses:
- Toilets, faucets and showers are more than 60% of indoor use. Make sure yours are WaterSense efficient;
- Limit outdoor watering to 1 day a week (only from 5:00PM – 9:00AM), or less frequently if required by your water supplier;
- Switch to more drought-tolerant plants.
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;
- Develop a local drought management plan.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) will continue to provide technical assistance to communities on managing systems, including assistance on use of emergency connections and water supplies.
“During drought, rivers and streams are asked to provide whatever water is needed to make-up for the water deficit, to the detriment of those local natural resources,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “Residents should be aware of the conditions in their community and watershed and continue to practice conservation of these important resources.”
The Drought Management Task Force will meet again on June 8, 2021 at 10:00 AM. State agencies will continue to closely monitor and assess conditions across the state, coordinate any needed dissemination of information to the public, and help state, federal and local agencies prepare additional responses that may be needed in the future. For further information on water conservation and what residents and communities can do, visit the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ drought page and water conservation pages.