Above normal temperatures in July and August, and months of below normal precipitation led Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides to declare all of the state to be in a “Significant Drought- Level 2”. NRWA water monitoring staff and volunteers are noting reduced flows in watershed rivers and streams, and are sharing photos of such with the state agencies. The Commonwealth is asking residents to conserve water in all indoor and outdoor endeavors. Local water suppliers have enacted mandatory water bans. Neighboring southern New Hampshire is in a Moderate “D1” drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Near record high temperatures in July – the second highest temperatures recorded for July in Massachusetts – accelerated evapotranspiration, or the evaporation of moisture from trees and plants. This was combined with below-normal snowpack this past winter, which wasn’t enough to replenish groundwater supplies. The July and early August lack of rainfall left most areas of the Commonwealth down 1 to 3 inches in precipitation, increasing the risk of fire danger and decreasing crop moisture.
- Residents are asked to minimize outside water use, such as car washing, pool filling, or washing of patios or decks. Watering should be done with hand-held hoses or watering cans between the hours of 5 pm and 9 am, and only on the days your town permits watering.
- Residents are also reminded that brown lawns are dormant – not dead! A brown lawn in mid-summer is a natural phenomenon. Lawns will return to their green splendor when rains begin again.
- Residents are asked to reduce indoor water use, by taking shorter showers, running dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads, and turning off water while brushing teeth.
- Some will say “I have a private well, so I don’t have to worry about water bans.” Martha Morgan, NRWA Water Programs Director commented, “Think of every well as another straw in the aquifer – your private well might have plentiful water, but watering your lawn may impact your neighbor’s drinking water well, or deplete the local streams that fish and other aquatic life depend on for life.” Limiting outside water use is one of the most effective ways to reduce impacts to water supplies for drinking, fire protection, and the environment.