Following four continuous months of unusually dry weather, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton today declared a Drought Watch for Central and Northeast Massachusetts and a Drought Advisory for Southeast Massachusetts and the Connecticut River Valley. The declaration was the result of a recommendation issued from a recent meeting of the Drought Management Task Force, comprised of state, federal and local officials, and will remain in effect until water levels return to normal in the affected regions.\n\n\u201cDrought conditions can contribute to lasting agricultural, environmental, and economic impacts, and also raise serious public safety concerns,\u201d said EEA Secretary Matthew Beaton. \u201cThis drought declaration is an important tool which will help officials on all levels of government to work together to ensure we take action where necessary, and we advise all residents to conserve water and take increased care with any outdoor burning such as campfires and disposal of smoking materials.\u201d\n\n\u201cIf these very dry conditions continue through the summer months, the threat of wildfires will become even greater,\u201d said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Kurt Schwartz. \u201cTo that end, we remind our residents and visitors to continue to not only conserve water, but also utilize extreme caution when dealing with outdoor burning.\u201d\n\nA Drought Advisory, the second of five levels of drought conditions outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, indicates a level of dry conditions that warrants closer tracking by government agencies.\u00a0 The decline of the state\u2019s rainfall in the Connecticut River Valley, Central, and Northeast Regions since March led to the drought condition, with cumulative precipitation deficits of four to five inches below normal for the months of April, May and June.\u00a0 For the months of May and June, precipitation was less than 61 percent of normal in the regions under Drought Watch and Advisory. Data from the state\u2019s groundwater, streamflow and reservoir monitoring network show very low levels for the beginning of July. Seventeen streams across the four regions impacted by drought have registered record-low flows for early July.\n\nA Drought Watch, a higher degree of drought, represents extremely low groundwater and streamflow levels resulting from a precipitation deficit of nearly ten inches over the past 12 months, including a lack of snowfall in the winter months.\u00a0 The declaration of a Drought Watch warrants detailed monitoring of drought conditions, close coordination among state and federal agencies, and technical outreach and assistance for the affected municipalities.