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Drought Management in Massachusetts

Welcome to the Massachusetts Drought page where you can find information about the current drought status, the drought management task force and its meetings, drought index data and monthly hydrological conditions reports. You can also view and easily download drought-related outreach material.

Table of Contents

Current Status

Drought status declared July 15, 2024. (effective until updated)

Following two months of below-average rainfall, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rebecca Tepper declared a Level 1-Mild Drought in the Western Region of Massachusetts. All other regions of the state – Connecticut River Valley, Central, Northeast, Southeast, Cape Cod, and Islands – 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.

The week of May 29 – June 5 saw multiple indices at below-normal for the first time in the Western Region: the 60-day precipitation and 30-day streamflow were at severity level 2 and KBDI-Fire Danger at Level 1. June was a warm and drier month in western Massachusetts. Rainfall totals averaged 2 to 4 inches which is 50-75% below average for the month but locations near the east slopes of the Berkshires received 4 to 5 inches of rain in June which was closer to normal. Three-month departures in precipitation are beginning to show a decline in western Massachusetts (as low as 75%) but six-month departures are within the normal range.

Streamflow conditions have generally moved from above normal to normal over the last 3 months across Massachusetts, with the Cape and Islands still a little above normal by the end of June and parts of the Hoosic, Housatonic, and Connecticut River basins a little below normal in May and June. By late June, groundwater levels were normal to above normal statewide at USGS-monitored continuous wells, except for wells in the upper Hoosic and Housatonic basins, which were a little below normal.

The Drought Management Task force will meet again on Tuesday, August 6 and update the drought status recommendation at that time.

What you need to know

Drought Management Task Force

Image for Drought Basics: dripping faucet

The DMTF serves citizens, businesses, and farms throughout Massachusetts by collecting information and making recommendations for drought management to the Secretary of EEA, the Secretary of Public Safety and Security, and the Governor...Learn More

Drought Monitoring

Drought Monitoring

Find information on current drought conditions and learn about how your water supply may be affected..Learn More 

Drought Tips, Tools & Resources

for drought-assistance: picture of a barn

Learn how you can help yourself and your community by saving water..Learn More

What Can You Do?

The actions below apply to all outdoor water users and represent one of the most effective ways to minimize the impacts of drought on water supply and the environment.

Nonessential Outdoor Water-Use Restrictions at Various Drought Levels

*Essential uses are defined by MassDEP as uses required: a) for health or safety reasons; b) by regulation; c) for the production of food and fiber; d) for the maintenance of livestock; or e) to meet the core functions of a business.  Nonessential uses are those other than essential uses.

 

Steps You Can Take to Conserve Water at Each Drought Level:

The Conserve MA Water site is loaded with water conservation tools, tips, and information for residents, businesses, local communities, farmers, and more.

Level 1 – Mild Drought

Residents and Businesses:

  • Toilets, faucets and showers are more than 60% of indoor use.  Make sure yours are WaterSense efficient.
  • Limit outdoor watering to one day a week (only from 5:00 pm – 9:00 am), or less frequently if required by your water supplier

Immediate Steps for Communities:

  • Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought.
  • Limit or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; watering during or within 48 hours after measurable rainfall; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; filling of swimming pools, hot tubs, and backyard informal rinks.
  • Establish water-use reduction targets for all water users and identify top water users and conduct targeted outreach to help curb their use.
     

Short- and Medium-Term Steps for Communities:

  • Establish a year-round water conservation program that includes public education and communication.
  • Provide timely information to local residents and businesses.
  • Implement or establish drought surcharge or seasonal water rates.
  • Check emergency inter-connections for water supply.
  • Develop a local drought management plan.

Level 2 – Significant Drought

Residents and Businesses:

  • Minimize overall water use;
  • Limit outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans, to be used only after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m.
  • Follow local water use restrictions, if more stringent.

Immediate Steps for Communities:

  • Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought; Level 2 restriction calls for limiting outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans, to be used only after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m. If local restrictions are more stringent, continue to keep them in place during the course of the drought.
  • Limit or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; watering during or within 48 hours after measurable rainfall; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; filling of swimming pools, hot tubs, and backyard informal rinks.
  • Establish water-use reduction targets for all water users and identify top water users and conduct targeted outreach to help curb their use.

Short- and Medium-Term Steps for Communities:

  • Establish a year-round water conservation program that includes public education and communication.
  • Provide timely information to local residents and businesses.
  • Implement or establish drought surcharge or seasonal water rates.
  • Check emergency inter-connections for water supply; and
  • Develop or refine your local drought management plan using guidance outlined in the state Drought Management Plan.

Level 3 – Critical Drought

Residents and Businesses:

  • Minimize overall water use.
  • Stop all non-essential outdoor watering.

Immediate Steps for Communities:

  • Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought; Level 3 restriction calls for a ban on all nonessential outdoor water use.
  • Provide timely information on the drought and on water conservation tips to local residents and businesses.
  • Enforce water use restrictions with increasingly stringent penalties.
  • Strongly discourage or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; filling of swimming pools, hot tubs, and backyard informal rinks.
  • Establish or enhance water-use reduction targets for all water users and identify top water users and conduct targeted outreach to help curb their use

Short- and Medium-Term Steps for Communities:

  • Establish a year-round water conservation program that includes public education and communication.
  • Implement or establish drought surcharge or seasonal water rates.
  • Prepare to activate emergency inter-connections for water supply.
  • Develop or refine your local drought management plan using guidance outlined in the state Drought Management Plan.

Additional Resources   for What Can You Do?

Drought- Related Press Releases

The secretary of EOEEA sends regular press releases during times of drought to update stakeholders on current conditions statewide. It can be useful to review these press releases in order to get a summary of how drought conditions are being evaluated and  managed at a given time in Massachusetts. View archived and most recent drought-related press releases at the links below.

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