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Drought Planning Guidance

Massachusetts periodically experiences droughts, which can cause particularly strong impacts during the late spring and summer months. Preparing your community for a drought will help ensure there is enough water for residents, businesses and vital services such as firefighting when rainfall is sparse. Your Drought Management Plan (DMP) should be a component of your community’s emergency response plan.

Table of Contents

Drought Levels

There are four levels used to describe drought in Massachusetts. These levels guide restrictions on nonessential outdoor water-use and should be incorporated into every DMP.  

State Drought Level and description
Drought Levels Graphic


Create a Drought Management Plan

Cover Image from the Drought  Management Guide

A local drought management plan will strengthen your community’s ability to provide enough water during a drought. A DMP should outline key actions to be taken in preparation for and during a drought. It should define drought levels and assign actions appropriate to each level.

The Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, Section 8 provides guidance on local drought planning, including the following key steps in developing a local drought management plan:




step 1
Form a drought response team and establish coordination and communication strategies within and between municipal departments, with the community, and among all relevant partner agencies and organizations. 
step 2
Forecast Supply in Relation to Demand: The goal of this step is to develop a reasonable estimate of how much water will be available under various shortage conditions, including multi-year droughts.
step 3
Assess Options for Balancing Supply and Demand: This step focuses on two general types of drought mitigation options: reducing customer demand and augmenting supply. Demand reduction actions during a drought should be intensified as drought levels increase (see step 5).
step 4
Establish Triggering Levels: This step identifies the specific conditions that will trigger each drought stage (for example, reservoir depths dropping below a specified level).
step 5
Develop a Staged Drought Response: In this step, each drought stage is assigned response actions. Table 12 from the MA Drought Management Plan shows an example of a Drought Response Matrix .
step 6
Adopt the Plan.
step 7
Implement the Plan.

Resources for developing a local drought management plan:

Key Resources

More content for Water Suppliers and Municipal Officials

Toolkit - Site Map  > Municipalities  > Suppliers and Water Commissioners

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