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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

Reflecting conditions since May 1, 2022. (effective until updated)

June 15, 2022: Following lower than normal rainfall for the past three months, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Bethany Card today announced that conditions have deteriorated in many regions of the state and has declared a Level 2 – Significant Drought in the Northeast and Southeast Regions, a Level 1 – Mild Drought in the Connecticut River Valley, the Central and Islands Regions. The Western and Cape Cod Regions remain at Level 0 – Normal conditions.

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 1-Mild Drought warrants detailed monitoring of drought conditions, close coordination among state and federal agencies, and technical outreach and assistance to the affected municipalities, and; a Level 2-Significant Drought warrants the convening of an inter-agency Mission Group to more closely coordinate on drought assessments, impacts and response within the government. 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.

As the Commonwealth enters the growing season, it is incredibly important that outdoor watering should be limited, coupled with the planting of drought tolerant plants to further 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 mindful of their overall water use, select only native and drought resistant plants for new plantings, and particularly in Level 1 – Mild Drought areas limit outdoor watering to no more than one day a week (before 9:00 am or after 5:00 pm only), and in Level 2 – Significant Drought areas limit outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans, before 9:00 am or after 5:00 pm.

Other water conservation tips include:

  • 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 and outdoor water use.

While water supplies are currently doing fine, many communities are proactively instituting 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.

Additional Resources

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