Statewide

Drought Status Map Statewide

The state continues to intensely monitor and assess the drought situation, and environmental and agricultural impacts, and asks the public to be mindful of the amount of water they are using, and to eliminate or greatly reduce outdoor water use to ensure essential needs such as drinking water, fire protection, and crop hydration are being met.

For Regions in Drought Warning:

  • Outdoor water use should be eliminated.  

For Regions in Drought Watch:

  • Outdoor water use should be limited to “handheld watering” with a hose or a watering can after 5pm or before 9am (to avoid evaporative losses); and
  • Filling swimming pools, washing cars and washing buildings should be prohibited.

For Regions in Drought Advisory:

  • Outdoor watering with irrigation systems and sprinklers should be limited to no more than one day per week; and
  • Watering with a handheld hose should be limited to after 5pm or before 9 am (to avoid evaporative losses).

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Cities & Towns

map of CURRENT MUNICIPAL WATER USE RESTRICTIONS

Emergency restrictions or bans on non-essential water use are utilized by water suppliers to reduce water consumption by their consumers. The restrictions imposed by suppliers vary by water system or community, but often include limitations to the hours of the day you may water, the days per week you may water, limitations on automatic sprinklers or irrigation systems, or may be a complete ban on outdoor watering. To determine if your community or water supplier has enacted a non-essential water use restriction, and any details about those restrictions, please contact your local water supplier or check for information on the web site of your local community.

MassDEP has the Municipal Water Use Restrictions page, which is updated regularly during the monitoring season (normally May 1 through Sep. 30) and includes links to information about drought conditions: 

Water-conservation information is provided here (along with links to the Water Use Restrictions page and to drought-management info from DCR):

Information about drought conditions (some of which replicates information found on the restrictions page) can be found on the Water Management Act homepage:

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Private Wells ( downloadable copy of private wells  pdf format of downloadable copy of private wells
)

How can the Drought impact Drinking Water Sources?
During periods of drought, especially when conditions are severe (drought watch and higher), water sources such as reservoirs and wells that draw from underground aquifers are slow to recharge and can drop to very low levels. As the drought persists, these levels continue to decrease significantly and can affect all water users.

Does my small private well have any impact on water levels?
All sources of water that are within a river basin, irrespective of the location or type of withdrawal, ultimately get their water from that same basin. The impact from your private well withdrawal along with all others in the watershed does impact the total amount of water available in that basin. During a drought, with less water available the impacts will be felt by all. And overuse of water, especially for outdoor purposes will deplete sources.

Will my efforts to conserve water make any difference?
No matter where you get your water, any water conservation efforts you take will help alleviate the impacts on your source of water. Being mindful of the amount of water you use, and following the same watering restrictions as your town’s public water supply system will help stretch your water supplies until conditions improve.  It will also allow your community to have enough water for fire protection (the likelihood of fires increases as conditions get dry), public health and safety, and the environment. 

So remember, even if you have your own well, it almost always still comes from the same place as the public water supply, as long as you are in the same river basin. Water conservation measures are critical and should be started early. Reducing your water use can save water for the future!

How can I get more Information about my well?
If you are looking for more information about your well, contact your local Board of Health (BOH). Upon installation of any well, a well driller is required to submit copies of the Well Completion Report to the local BOH and the MassDEP Well Driller Program. By contacting either office, you should be able to get a copy of your Well Completion Report, which contains well construction details and geologic descriptions.

If I am a private citizen and my well goes dry what should I do?

  • First contact your town office, your local Board of Health and emergency management official to report your dry well and to determine if there are any local resources available for assistance
  • If you need immediate hook-up to a water connection, contact your local fire department and/or school to see if you may be able to use their facilities
  • If you have enough storage available at your residence, you may also be able to buy water from private water suppliers and tankers, please see this list of private sector water suppliers pdf format of Drought Resources: Private Sector Water Suppliers
  • For a long-term solution, contact a well digger to explore options such as well replacement, deepening the well to access water lower into the water table. For more information on well drilling visit the MassDEP website on private wells here.

If I am a small business or a farmer with a private well that is running dry what should I do?

  • Contact your local city or town office, and board of health to report that your well is going dry;
  • A farmer may contact Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources for assistance;
  • If you have enough storage available at your farm, you may also be able to buy water from private water suppliers and tankers.  For a list of vendors, please see this list of water tanker companies pdf format of Drought Resources: Water Tanker Companies
.
  • Governor Baker has made available micro-loans for small businesses and farmers that have been impacted by the drought. For information on the Massachusetts Drought Emergency Loan Fund click here
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and private nonprofit organizations located in the counties of Bristol, Franklin, Norfolk, Essex, Middlesex and Worcester. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can be downloaded from www.sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.  Completed loan applications must be returned to SBA no later than April 25, 2017.

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FAQs ( downloadable copy of FAQs  pdf format of downloadable copy of FAQs
)

  1. What is a Drought and what are the different levels of drought?
  2. Who establishes drought in Massachusetts? How is it determined?
  3. What level of Drought is my area in?
  4. Where does my drinking water come from?
  5. How does the drought impact me?
  6. I have my own private well; why can’t I use as much water as I want?
  7. What can I do to help during a drought?
  8. Who can I go to if I need additional water or resources?
  9. Who can I talk to in state government?

 

What is a Drought and what are the different levels of drought?
A drought is a period of unusually persistent dry weather that continues long enough to cause serious problems such as crop damage, water supply shortages, and habitat loss. The severity of the drought depends upon how acute the water deficit is, the duration, and the size of the affected area.

To get the latest information on the various drought levels in Massachusetts click here.

Who establishes drought in Massachusetts? How is it determined?
Massachusetts has a Drought Management Plan that outlines how drought is defined using 5 drought levels for six drought regions across the state. The drought levels are established after a review of various parameters - precipitation, streamflow, groundwater levels, reservoir levels, fire danger, and crop moisture. To see the latest hydrological conditions click here.

Massachusetts also has a Drought Management Task Force (DMTF) which consists of officials from state and federal agencies and professional organizations with responsibility for areas likely to be affected by drought conditions and/or who have technical knowledge about drought conditions. The DMTF makes drought recommendations to the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs who in turn declares the drought for Massachusetts. The DMTF also assists in monitoring, coordinating and managing responses.

What level of Drought is my area in?
Massachusetts is divided into six regions for the purposes of drought.  Although we are a small state, each region experiences and responds to weather patterns a little differently.  To see which drought region your town is in click here.  To check the drought level of the region your town is in please click here.

Where does my drinking water come from?
Your water supply can come from public or private wells that draw water from underground, or from surface water stored in a reservoir and/or drawn directly from a river. Some communities have a combination of these sources. If you are an MWRA community you get your water from the Quabbin and the Wachusett reservoirs located in central Massachusetts. Some towns are partially served by the MWRA and partially by local sources. Contact your local Department of Public Works to find out the source of your water.

How does the drought impact me?
Water scarcity impacts all users of water. With decreasing amounts of rain, there is less water available in our reservoirs and in the ground to meet our needs, and even less for lakes, ponds,  rivers, streams and wetlands, and the wildlife that depend on them.  No matter where you get your water, any water conservation efforts you take will help alleviate the impacts on your source of water. It will help stretch your water supply for a longer period of time until conditions improve, and it will also help ensure that your town has enough water for fire protection (the likelihood of fires increases as conditions get dry).

I have my own private well; why can’t I use as much water as I want?
Being mindful of the amount of water you use, and following the same watering restrictions as your town’s public water supply system will help stretch your water supplies for a longer period of time. It will also allow your community to have enough water for fire protection, public health and safety, and the environment.  So remember, even if you have your own well, it almost always still comes from the same place as the public water supply, as long as you are in the same river basin.

What can I do to help during a drought?
Conserving water is always a good idea, but it is especially important during times of drought. We can all help reduce the impact of the drought by using less water. As the drought becomes more severe, we can increase our conservation in response. For example:

  • Avoid all outdoor watering. If you have a vegetable patch that needs some water, use a hand-held device only. Lawns naturally go dormant when water is scarce and can revive when conditions improve.
  • In your landscape use drought-resistant plants and employ water-smart landscaping principles.
  • Inside the building, avoid letting the water run, take shorter showers, and wash only full loads of dishes and laundry. Be extremely mindful of indoor water use and use only what is necessary.
  •  Turning off water when brushing teeth or shaving can save 10 gallons/person/day. 
  • Installing a high efficiency toilet can save 19 gallons/person/day.
  • Talk to your friends and neighbors about conserving water
  • Washing full loads of clothes can save 15-45 gallons/load and washing full loads of dishes in the dishwasher can save 5-15 gallons/load
  • For additional tips for saving water go to water conservation tips.

Who can I go to if I need additional water or resources?

  • If you are a resident with a private well that is running dry, contact your local city or town office, and board of health to report that your well is going dry; then contact your public water supplier (if there is one in your town), or your local fire department to see if you can temporarily hook up to their system. For a more long-term solution, consider deepening your well and contact a well driller. If several wells in an area are going dry, you can consider contracting with a water tanker to provide you with water in the interim. For a list of private water tankers and suppliers, please see this list of water tanker companies pdf format of Drought Resources: Water Tanker Companies
.
  • If you are a small business or a farmer with a private well that is running dry,
    • contact your local city or town office, and board of health to report that your well is going dry;
    • a farmer may contact Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources for assistance;
    • Governor Baker has made available micro-loans for small businesses and farmers that have been impacted by the drought. For information on the Massachusetts Drought Emergency Loan Fund click here
    • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and private nonprofit organizations located in the counties of Bristol, Franklin, Norfolk, Essex, Middlesex and Worcester.


Who can I talk to in state government?

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Tips for Saving Water ( downloadable copy of tips for saving water  pdf format of  downloadable copy of tips for saving water
)

When in Drought or Not – We All can do Our Part!

To check your drought region and status go to: www.mass.gov/dcr/drought

 

Outdoor Water Use

1.   Limit lawn watering, especially during a drought 1

      Lawns naturally go dormant during dry conditions. They’ll revive when conditions improve.

  • If you are in a Region in Drought Warning (Severe Drought Conditions):
    DO NOT WATER YOUR LAWN.
  • If you are in a Region in Drought Watch (Moderate to Severe Drought): Limit watering to hand-held only or drip irrigation. Water after 5PM or before 9AM to avoid evaporative losses.
  • If you are in a Region in Drought Advisory (Abnormally Dry Conditions): Limit watering to 1 day per week at most. Water after 5PM or before 9AM.

2.   Minimize landscape water needs through water-smart landscaping principles 2

Graphic: as much as 50 percent of the water we use outdoors is wasted from inefficient watering methodsand systems. Curb your water waste!
Source: https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/
  • Maintain healthy soils (a minimum of 6-inches in depth, where possible).
  • Choose native plants or plants and turf that need less water.
  • Use mulch to reduce evaporation and moderate soil temperature.
  • Leave grass clippings on lawn to shade and return nutrients to soil. 

3.   Minimize your use of water outdoors

  • Sweep driveways, walks, patios, and other outdoor areas with a broom rather than hosing them off. 
  • Wash vehicles using a bucket and sponge, employing a hose with a shut-off nozzle for rinse only, or, if available, use a commercial car wash that recycles water (most do).
  • Cover swimming pools when not in use to prevent evaporation.

Indoor Water Use

Pie chart: Daily percent of indoor water use, per person
Daily percent of indoor water use, per person
  1. Take shorter showers (5 minutes or less) and use water-saving showerheads.
  2. Turn off water while brushing teeth or shaving: “Never Let the Water Run.”
  3. Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes.
  4. Choose high-efficiency plumbing products and appliances (look for the WaterSense or Energy Star labels).
  5. Fix leaks!  Dripping faucets and leaking toilets, pipes, and appliances can add up to hundreds of gallons of water lost per week. 
  6. Create a kitchen compost bin instead of using the garbage disposal.
  7. Collect and reuse clean household water (water running while you wait for hot water to reach your faucet or shower; leftover water
    from cooking, etc.) and use this to water plants.

[1] Certain water uses are not subject to mandatory restrictions, such as water used: for health or safety reasons; for production of food and fiber; for maintenance of livestock; to meet the core functions of a business (for example, irrigation by plant nurseries as necessary to maintain stock).

[2] Adapted from Water-Smart Landscapes Start with WaterSense (EPA WaterSense) 

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Disaster Assistance for Businesses

Below, find information on financial and technical assistance programs available to Massachusetts businesses that have been negatively affected by the ongoing drought conditions.

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