Following sporadic rainfall totals during the last several months, which has resulted in below average precipitation numbers in eastern Massachusetts, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Bethany Card today declared a Level 1-Mild Drought in the Southeast and Islands Regions of the Commonwealth. All other regions of the state – Connecticut River Valley, Central, Northeast, Western, Cape Cod regions – remain in Level 0-Normal conditions.
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 to the affected municipalities.
“With forecasts showing below normal rainfalls with elevated temperatures, it’s important that we all administer water conservation practices early in the year to minimize stress on our water supply systems and natural habitats,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “As state officials continue to monitor and analyze ongoing conditions, we ask everyone, particularly those in the Southeast and Islands Regions, to be mindful of water usage as we advance further into the growing and outdoor recreational seasons.”
“Each of us can play a role in mitigating drought impacts by reducing water usage and by being cautious of the increased risk of brush and wildland fires due to the dry conditions,” said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency(MEMA) Acting Director Dawn Brantley. “MEMA reminds the public to exercise caution with 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.”
During the past several months, the Commonwealth has experienced irregular rainfall events, contributing to less than average spring precipitation numbers; however, the southeastern of the state has been most impacted. Significantly, due to high evapotranspiration and early leaf out occurring, available water in the hydrological systems have been decreasing. The decision to declare the Southeast and Islands Regions a Level 1 – Mild Drought was informed by recommendations and discussions by the Drought Management Task Force (DMTF), composed of state and federal officials and other entities, which met on Friday, May 6, 2022. The declaration will remain in effect until water levels return to normal conditions in those regions.
Those living and working within a Level 1 – Mild Drought region, and including residents utilizing a private well, are encouraged to take the following actions:
For Region in Level 1 – Mild Drought
Residents and Businesses:
- Minimize overall water use;
- Limit outdoor watering to 1-day a week from 5:00PM to 9:00AM, or less frequently if required by your water supplier;
- Plant only local and drought resistant species;
- Fix indoor leaks, such as from toilets, faucets, and showers, which result in more than 60% of indoor use;
- For larger buildings and businesses, conduct water audits to identify areas of leaks and potential water conservation opportunities;
- Minimize lawn sizes; and,
- Harvest rainwater for outdoor watering.
- Establish a year-round water conservation program that includes public education and communication;
- Provide timely drought and water conservation information to local residents and businesses;
- Check emergency inter-connections for water supply; and
- Develop a local drought management plan (click here for more information).
All these steps will greatly help reduce water use to ensure essential needs, such as drinking water and fire protection, are being met, habitats have enough water to support their natural functions, and to sustain the Commonwealth’s water supplies. Additionally, the Commonwealth will continue to monitor and assess current conditions, and any associated environmental and agricultural impacts. Furthermore, 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.
“Many are just now beginning to think about their plantings and irrigation needs, and as a result now is also the time to plan to use your water as efficiently as possible,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “Planting local and drought-resistant species and minimizing lawn irrigation is a significant environmental benefit, that only becomes more important if dry conditions linger into the late spring and summer. Residents should check with their local water supplier for tips on efficient water usage.”
The Drought Management Task Force will meet again on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, at 1:00PM. 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 can do, visit the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ drought page and water conservation page.