Following above-average rainfall throughout most of the Commonwealth in July, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides today declared that drought conditions remain unchanged from last month, with Level 0-Normal Conditions in all regions across the Commonwealth except Cape Cod, which remains at a Level 1-Mild Drought.

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. Officials will continue monitoring Cape Cod closely to better understand if there are any improvements from recent precipitation events.

“The majority of Massachusetts experienced high precipitation totals over the course of July, receiving several months’ worth of rainfall in a single month,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “However, we continue to see dry conditions in the Cape Cod region, and we urge residents and businesses to continue practicing important water conservation methods in an effort to mitigate drought conditions and protect our water resources.”

The Cape Cod Region received less than the average monthly rainfall, and there are signs of the region’s water deficit going back approximately six months. Groundwater and associated streamflow and lakes and impoundment levels are all still well below normal at the regional scale, with some recovery in some locations in Cape Cod. Individuals on the Cape are asked to continue to restrict their outdoor water use and conserve water indoors to help maintain water resources through the high-use Summer months and into the Fall.

While most of Massachusetts has returned to Normal Conditions, it is still important to reduce water consumption. Residents and businesses are asked to:

  • Continue to exercise outdoor water conservation;
  • Plant non-lawn/non-grass landscapes;
  • Increase plantings of drought tolerant species and to shift to non-lawn/non-grass landscapes; and,
  • Install rain collection systems to help with watering of outdoor plants and vegetable gardens.

Additional information can be found on EEA’s webpages on indoor and outdoor water use. Residents are also asked to follow any watering requirements outlined by their community’s Public Water Supplier. While water supplies are currently operating within suitable conditions, everyone is encouraged to also follow any supplementary watering requirements outlined by their community’s Public Water Supplier. Furthermore, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) water supply system is not currently experiencing drought conditions, as defined within its individual plan.

Recommendations for regions in a Level 1-Mild Drought include:

Residents and Businesses:

  • Limit outdoor watering to 1 day a week (only from 5:00PM – 9:00AM), or less frequently if required by your water supplier;
  • Toilets, faucets and showers are more than 60% of indoor use.  Make sure yours are WaterSense efficient; and,
  • 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; and,
  • Develop a local drought management plan.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) also provides technical assistance to communities on managing systems, which includes assistance on the use of emergency connections and water supplies.

“As we get into the late summer season, groundwater elevations on Cape Cod that naturally fall this time of year are dropping even more due to several months of below-average precipitation,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “A number of public water suppliers on the Cape have already taken proactive steps to reduce demand and we urge all residents and visitors to Cape Cod to follow their lead and continue to reduce nonessential water uses.”

Once a month, upon a review of available data, the state’s Drought Management Task Force, which is composed of state and federal officials, and other entities, provides Secretary Theoharides with drought status recommendations for her review. The task force will continue to meet while any of the state has a declaration of Level 1-Mild Drought or higher, and provide these key recommendations.

The Drought Management Task Force will meet again on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 at 10:00AM. Ongoing efforts include state agencies closely monitor and assess conditions across the Commonwealth, 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.