Press Release

Press Release Significant Drought Declared for Southeast and Northeast Regions in MA

CT River Valley and Central Regions Elevate to Mild Drought Along with Islands Region
For immediate release:
6/15/2022
  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
  • Drought Management Task Force
  • Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency

Media Contact for Significant Drought Declared for Southeast and Northeast Regions in MA

Troy Wall, Communications Director

Massachusetts Drought Status Declared on June 15, 2022

BOSTONWith Massachusetts continuing to experience dry conditions in much of the state over the course of the last several months, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Beth Card today declared a Level 2-Signficant Drought in both the Northeast and Southeast Regions of the Commonwealth. Additionally, along with the Islands Region, which was declared a Level 1-Mild Drought last month, the Connecticut River Valley and Central Regions of the state have been elevated to Level 1, as well. Currently, the Western and Cape Cod Regions of the Commonwealth will remain in Level 0-Normal conditions. As outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, 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, and 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.

“Most regions across the Commonwealth are now experiencing drought-like conditions, so we all need to continue to implement water conservation methods in order to reduce impacts on our water supplies and our natural environment, which supports migrating species of fish, aquatic plant life, and habitats and ecosystems, ” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “These dry conditions also serve as an important reminder that extra precautions should be taken when utilizing an open flame in order to prevent wildland fires.”

“As we enter summer with drought conditions across much of the Commonwealth, we ask residents to follow any local water restrictions, minimize water usage, and be cautious when using charcoal grills, matches, fire pits, and other open flames,” said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Acting Director Dawn Brantley. “MEMA will continue to work with our partners and the inter-agency Drought Mission Group to coordinate the response to the drought conditions.”

During the previous month, hydrologic conditions have deteriorated, especially in the Northeast and Southeast regions. Since Massachusetts has entered 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.

It is important to note that the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) water supply system is not currently experiencing drought conditions, as defined within its individual plan. And although communities serviced by the MWRA will not experience water supply issues, those with private wells as well as local streams, wetlands, vernal pools, and other water-dependent habitats will be impacted by drought conditions while water quality in streams and ponds can deteriorate due to lowering of levels and stagnation.

For those living and working within a Level 2 – Significant Drought and Level 1 – Mild Drought region, including residents utilizing a private well, they are encouraged to take the following actions:

For Region in Level 2 - Significant Drought-

Residents and Businesses:

  • Minimize overall water use;
  • Limit outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans, to be used only after 5:00PM or before 9:00AM one day a week.

Immediate Steps for Communities:

  • Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought.
  • Limit or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; operation of non-recirculating fountains; filling of swimming pools, hot tubs, and backyard informal rinks.
  • Implement drought or seasonal water rates.
  • 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;
  • Check emergency inter-connections for water supply; and,
  • Develop a local drought management plan.

For Region in Level 1 - Mild Drought-

Residents and Businesses:

  • Toilets, faucets and showers are more than 60% of indoor use.  Make sure yours are WaterSense efficient.
  • Limit outdoor watering to 1 day a week (only from 5:00PM – 9:00AM), or less frequently if required by your water supplier.

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;
  • Check emergency inter-connections for water supply; and,
  • Develop a local drought management plan (click here for more information).

All these steps will greatly help reduce water use to ensure essential needs, such as drinking water and fire protection, are being met, habitats have enough water to support their natural functions, and to sustain the Commonwealth’s water supplies. Additionally, the Commonwealth will continue to monitor and assess current conditions, and any associated environmental and agricultural impacts. Furthermore, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) will continue to provide technical assistance to communities on managing systems, including assistance on use of emergency connections and water supplies.

“We are early in our irrigation season with summer still days away, so now is the time to implement conservation measures and to reduce our water demand,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “Changes now may help reduce larger problems later on should dry conditions continue. I urge all residents to be aware of their water use and to follow the requirements of their individual public water system.”

The Drought Management Task Force will meet again on Monday, July 11, 2022, at 1:00PM. Furthermore, state agencies will continue to closely monitor and assess conditions across the state, coordinate any needed dissemination of information to the public, and help state, federal and local agencies prepare additional responses that may be needed in the future. For further information on water conservation and what residents can do, please visit EEA’s drought page and water conservation page. To get the most up-to-date information on the drought indices, go to the state’s drought dashboard page.

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Media Contact for Significant Drought Declared for Southeast and Northeast Regions in MA

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs 

EEA seeks to protect, preserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s environmental resources while ensuring a clean energy future for the state’s residents. Through the stewardship of open space, protection of environmental resources, and enhancement of clean energy, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs works tirelessly to make Massachusetts a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.

Drought Management Task Force 

The Drought Management Task Force (DMTF) chaired by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, consists of officials from state and federal agencies and professional organizations with responsibility for areas likely to be affected by drought conditions. It also includes representatives of agencies that provide data used to assess the severity of drought conditions or that have the ability to respond to drought conditions, and public health and safety professionals.

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency 

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency ensures the state is prepared to withstand, respond to and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters.
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