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Drought Status

Find out the current drought status in Massachusetts, learn about past droughts and find past drought declaration maps.

Table of Contents

Current Drought Status

MA Drought Map 9-8-2022

September 8, 2022: Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Beth Card today declared that except for the Southeast Region that saw improvement at the regional scale, all other regions within the Commonwealth will remain at their current drought levels. This includes the Cape Cod, Connecticut River Valley, Northeast, and Central Regions remaining at a Level 3-Critical Drought, and the Islands and Western Regions remaining at a Level 2-Significant Drought. The Southeast Region has been upgraded to Level 2 – Significant Drought from a Level 3-Critical Drought. Read more on our drought status page. This declaration will remain in effect till the next declaration in Mid-September.

To learn which drought region your city or town falls into, go to https://www.mass.gov/service-details/drought-regions.

Outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, a Level 2-Significant Drought of higher warrants the convening of an inter-agency Mission Group to more closely coordinate on drought assessments, impacts and response within the government, in addition to detailed monitoring of drought conditions, and technical outreach and assistance to the affected municipalities. The declarations were the result of recommendations made by the state’s Drought Management Task Force, which is composed of state and federal officials, and other entities. The taskforce will continue to meet until water levels return to normal in the affected regions.

The drought continues to impact the environment in many ways.  Although streamflow across the state has bounced back up with the recent rains, it may be temporary and there continues to be decreasing levels in reservoirs, and dry streambeds in some locations. Groundwater, which is a slow reacting index, continues to decrease in all regions. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) temporary ban on all open flame and charcoal fires within state park properties is still in effect until further notice. During the temporary ban, small portable propane grills are still allowed at campgrounds and recreation areas where grilling is permitted.

It is incredibly important that outdoor watering be limited to essential uses to reduce the strain on local water systems. Drought-like conditions can also be detrimental to delicate habitats and ecosystems, and can directly impact outdoor recreational opportunities. EEA urges residents and businesses to continue to be extremely mindful of their overall water use, select only native and drought resistant plants for any new plantings, and follow the outdoor water restrictions below.

Watering Restrictions for Non-Essential Uses

Nonessential Outdoor Water-Use Restrictions at Various Drought Levels

 

Water Conservation Tips

  • Address leaks as soon as possible;
  • Conduct water audits on larger buildings and businesses to identify leaks and potential water conservation opportunities;
  • Minimize the size of where lawns are watered; and,
  • Harvest rainwater for outdoor watering.

Water conservation measures will aid in the reduction of water use and safeguard water for essential needs, such as drinking water, fire protection services, habitat recovery and environmental needs, and sustained water supplies. For more information, please visit EEA’s webpages on indoor water use and outdoor water use.

While water supplies are currently doing fine, many communities have instituted watering restrictions; individuals are encouraged to also follow watering requirements outlined by their communities’ Public Water Supplier. Additionally, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) water supply system is not currently experiencing drought conditions, as defined within its individual plan.

Water Impact Reporter

Voluntarily provide information about drought related impacts that affect you or that you see occurring in Massachusetts. Information submitted to this survey will be used by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to understand impacts reported across the state. By submitting information, you agree that it may be used in drought monitoring and research. Thank you for your time in reporting and please consider submitting new information as conditions change.

Past Droughts and Declaration

Drought History

The information in this Drought Status History dates to 2001, when the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan was developed in response to a period of deficient precipitation that began in 1999. The most severe drought of modern times was the drought of the 1960s, equivalent to a drought emergency. A less severe drought occurred in the early 1980s. 

The Commonwealth experienced another impactful drought in 2016-2017 with drought levels reaching Level 4 Drought (Warning) out of five levels of drought; the drought impacted the agricultural sector, some water supplies, the natural environment and many habitats and species. To read more about the drought, how it fared and the state responses and actions click here.

Past Drought Status Maps

Additional Resources

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