December 20th, 2002 - Wet Weather Improves; Conditions Return to Near Normal Conditions for Entire State Except Cape and Islands
BOSTON, MA - The Massachusetts Drought Management Task Force, at its December 18, 2002 meeting at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Headquarters in Framingham, recommended that the drought advisory level be eliminated for all of the state with the exception of Cape Cod and the Islands. Most of the state is now considered in normal conditions – that is, no longer in a drought condition. Cape Cod and the Islands remain at a drought Advisory as a result of long-term below normal groundwater levels. Prior to this meeting, the entire state was at the Advisory Level.
Precipitation levels were above normal for September through November -- on average 123 percent of normal, and December precipitation is above normal to date. Some surface water reservoirs and groundwater continue to recover from the preceding summer months. However, it is anticipated that normal winter precipitation will be sufficient for the larger surface water reservoirs and all groundwater to fully recover from the deficit that began in October 2001. Water suppliers and the public are encouraged to continue conservation efforts until reservoirs have fully recovered. People using private wells should also continue to conserve as ground water levels in bedrock may lag behind in drought recovery. The Quabbin Reservoir, operated by the Metropolitan District Commission, is 76 percent full, 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.
The fall and winter are the primary seasons for ground water recharge and restoration of reservoir levels. Development of a snowpack and the subsequent spring snowmelt is also part of the typical water cycle that helps to restore water table levels on an annual basis. If winter precipitation changes to become significantly below normal, drought concerns may reappear in the spring prior to the peak summer water use period.
Stream flow has returned to normal levels across the state. Ground water levels are generally in the normal range for this time of year, but there remain areas that have not yet recovered to normal levels. Since the spring of 1999, ground water levels have remained at below normal levels on Cape Cod and the Islands. The Task Force will be further evaluating this long-term condition in the coming months.
The Drought Management Task Force recommends that normal water conservation efforts continue to sustain public water supplies and protect environmental resources. Water conservation tips for public water suppliers and citizens can be downloaded at: http://www.state.ma.us/dem/programs/rainfall/drought.htm. Homeowners and other facilities with private wells are advised to undertake conservation measures to assure the continuity of their own supplies.
The Massachusetts Drought Management Task Force is composed of liaisons from Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, Department of Environmental Management, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Fish & Wildlife, Department of Food & Agriculture, 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 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.
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.