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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

Drought status declared December 13, 2023. (effective until updated)

The Drought Management Task Force has continued to assess conditions in the Islands Region since the Level 2 – Significant Drought declaration on December 13th, 2023 by Secretary Tepper, Energy and Environmental Affairs. Groundwater conditions began to improve with the significant precipitation the region received in January. However, despite the recent above normal precipitation, groundwater levels on the islands are still well below normal. Therefore, the Islands region will be held at Level 2 – Significant Drought. The task force will meet again in early March and will provide updated recommendations at that time if necessary.

Those living and working within a Level 2 – Significant Drought region, including residents utilizing a private well, are encouraged to take the following actions: 

Residents and Businesses: 

  • Minimize overall water use; and, 
  • Follow any local water use restrictions. 

Immediate Steps for Communities: 

  • Limit washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; and, 
  • 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

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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