June 7th, 2002 - Rainy May Brings Relief, Drought Watch Reduced to Drought Advisory
BOSTON, MA - The Massachusetts Drought Management Task Force, at a June 6th meeting at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Headquarters in Framingham, reduced the drought level from a drought watch to a drought advisory statewide.
May had significantly above normal precipitation in Massachusetts, with an average of 5.4 inches of rain, compared to a normal amount of 3.7 inches. Precipitation totals for the month of May averaged 145% of normal, with the northeastern part of the state receiving the most rain at nearly six inches, or 176% of normal. In addition to being wetter than normal, the month was also cooler than normal, helping to keep fire danger at lower levels and reducing evaporation and vegetative water uptake. The state's rainfall has improved steadily since March 2002, with cumulative precipitation 113% of normal for the last three months, or 1.5 inches above normal.
Water supply reservoirs have improved across the state. Most smaller reservoirs have recovered, and medium and large reservoirs are also responding, though some remain below normal levels for this time of year. The Quabbin Reservoir, operated by the Metropolitan District Commission, is at 86%, remaining in the below normal system status. However, due to its large storage capacity, the system can withstand extended dry periods without affecting its ability to supply water.
Stream flows were at normal levels across the state, and groundwater levels were mostly in the normal range, with some areas in the central, northeast and southeast regions of the Commonwealth remaining below normal. The Cape and Islands continue to have below normal groundwater levels, a situation that has existed since June of 1999.
A drought advisory was initially issued for the entire state in December 2001 following below normal levels of precipitation last fall. The entire state was raised to a drought watch in early March. As of early June, the entire state has been classified at a drought advisory level. The Drought Advisory indicates a level of dry conditions across the state that warrant tracking by state, federal and local agencies. The advisory level is the second of five action levels related to drought conditions that are outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan. The five action levels of the Drought Management Plan are: Normal, Advisory, Watch, Warning and Emergency.
The National Weather Service forecasts below normal temperatures and slightly above normal precipitation for first two weeks of June. The Drought Management Task Force will continue to monitor conditions closely in the coming weeks to assess the extent of drought recovery. The Task Force assesses conditions across the state, coordinates dissemination of information to the public, and helps state, federal and local agencies coordinate any responses that may be needed.
Concerns continue that the long-term precipitation deficit, which remains at 7 inches since October 2001, could mean that environmental resources associated with rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands may remain at risk if conservation efforts are not continued. The Drought Management Task Force recommends that communities and citizens continue to conserve water to help ensure that the relief from the dry conditions provided by the rains of May and early June provides the maximum recovery possible.
To respond to this drought advisory, the Drought Management Task Force recommends that water conservation efforts continue to be made. Water conservation tips for public water suppliers and citizens, which can be downloaded at: http://www.state.ma.us/dem/programs/rainfall/drought.htm. Public water suppliers should implement drought response plans as necessary to respond to their system requirements and assure water supply availability. Homeowners and other water users are advised to follow any guidance and adhere to any restrictions that may be put in place by their local water supplier. Care should be taken with outdoor fire uses. Homeowners and other facilities with private wells are advised to monitor local conditions accordingly. Municipalities are urged to implement water use restriction bylaws and ordinances to allow for system demand management if necessary during the summer months.
The Massachusetts Drought Management Task Force is composed of liaisons from Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Massachusetts Department of Fish & Wildlife, Massachusetts Department of Food & Agriculture, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Metropolitan District Commission, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Weather Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Massachusetts Water Works Association, the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards and the Water Supply Citizens Advisory Committee.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state and local resources to protect the public during disasters and emergencies. MEMA helps develop plans for effective response to all hazards, trains emergency personnel, provides information to families and communities, and assists in recovery from disaster losses. You can learn about MEMA and this topic by visiting the MEMA homepage at www.state.ma.us/mema.