2022 DROUGHT STATUS UPDATES

If you see or witness a fire becoming out of control, call 911 immediately to report it - do not hesitate, every second counts!
 
Updates will be added to the bottom of the page as they become available.
 
Please see below for press releases from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
For more information on drought status, please visit this page for MA specific information.
You can visit this page for information on heat-related health risks from the National Integrated Heat Health Information System.
You can visit this page for the nation-wide US Drought Monitor.
For questions on what this drought status means for you as an Applicant, please contact the Conservation Agent by phone (978-465-0862, ext 310), email (conscom@townofnewbury.org), or stop by the office at 12 Kent Way, Suite 101, in Byfield. You can also visit this page for information on Implications for Riverfront Area.
 
ORIGINAL RELEASE: JUNE 15, 2022
Drought Graphic
BOSTON — With 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.
 
UPDATE: JULY 14, 2022
 
90% of the state is now experiencing drought conditions - the Cape Cod Region is the only area remaining in Level 0-normal conditions. Most of the rest of the state is currently in Level 2-significant drought conditions, with the Western Region being the only one in Level 1-mild drought conditions. To view the official July 13, 2022 press release from the state, please visit this page.
Drought Update
 
UPDATE: JULY 21, 2022
 
The majority of the state is currently experiencing elevated temperatures and forecasts predicting little to no meaningful precipitation. The Northeast and Central Regions of the state have now been elevated to a Level 3-Critical Drought status. The Cape Cod Region has been elevated to a Level 1-Mild Drought. The Southeast and Connecticut River Valley Regions remain in a Level 2-Significant Drought, and the Islands and Western Regions remain in Level 1-Mild Drought. EEA Secretary Beth Card urges the critical need for water conservation across the state to allow water supply systems and natural habitats to rebound more quickly, and to ensure that water resources are available for essential needs such as drinking water and fire protection. MEMAs Acting Director Dawn Brantley also encourages residents to assist in water conservation by complying with local water restrictions and minimizing indoor and outdoor water useage, and by taking caution around barbeques, campfires, and other activities to prevent brush and forest fires. 
 
For Regions in Level 3 – Critical Drought
Residents and Businesses:
  • Minimize overall water use.
  • Stop all non-essential outdoor watering.
Immediate Steps for Communities:
  • Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought; Level 3 restriction calls for a ban on all nonessential outdoor water use.
  • Provide timely information on the drought and on water conservation tips to local residents and businesses.
  • Enforce water use restrictions with increasingly stringent penalties.
  • Strongly discourage or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; filling of swimming pools.
  • Establish or enhance 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.
  • Implement or establish drought surcharge or seasonal water rates.
  • Prepare to activate emergency inter-connections for water supply.
  • Develop or refine your local drought management plan using guidance outlined in the state Drought Management Plan.

To view the full official news announcement from the EEA, please visit this page

Drought Update

UPDATE: AUGUST 9, 2022

Drought conditions have worsened in CT River Valley, Southeast, and Cape Cod regions. The CT River Valley and Southeast regions have both been elevated to a Level 3 - Critical drought status, and the Cape Cod region has been elevated to a Level 2 - Significant drought status. The Western and Islands regions both still remain at a Level 1 - Mild drought status. State officials continue to urge practicing water conservation and adherence to local requirements and recommendations to avoid over stressing water resources. Minimizing water usage now will help water systems rebound more quickly and ensure essential public helath, safety, and environmental needs can be met. In a meeting of the Drought Management Task Force on August 8, members of the team outlined numerous drought-related hazards and issues that are being increased due to the continued dry, hot weather. Among the issues and hazards discussed include increased fire risk and danger, worsening water quality in natural water bodies, and threats to habitat connectivity for wildlife due to low water levels. Increased fire danger poses threats to homes, businesses, natural resources and wildlife, as well as human lives including those of the firefighters and first responders answering the call to action. More fires means more needs for water, and the increased demand for water means added stress on water systems. Fire activity is increasing across the state, and fires in remote areas with delayed response are now burning deep into organic layers of soil. Drought induced fire behavior can create suppression challenges and increase the incident timeframes. For these reasons, it is critical that we all practice water conservation as much as possible and take caution around outdoor activities that increase the risk of brush fires (BBQs, campfires, disposal of smoking materials, etc). If you are working or recreating with open flames, take special precautions by keeping water close by to extinguish small spreads and be sure to completely drown campfires and put them out cold. If you do see or witness a fire becoming out of control, call 911 immediately to report it - do not hesitate, every second counts!

The month of July 2022 saw minimal precipitation and high temperatures throughout the state, with eastern MA seeing the lowest rainfall. Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard saw less that an inch of rain (>50% of normal precipitation), and in eastern MA rainfall totals ranged in the top 15 driest Julys on records. Central and Western MA saw slightly higher rainfall with totals ranging from 2-4 inches (50-100% of normal precipitation), and some locations in the Springfield and southern Berkshire County experienced total ranges between 4-5 inches of rainfall.

Some reservoirs are seeing decreasing levels, and many areas across the state are seeing dry streambeds and diminished extent of streams in many watersheds leading to lack of flow, increased turbidity, high water temperature, and increased algae blooms. Groundwater is also starting to be impacted in many regions due to it's slow reacting index. Agriculture is also experiencing the drought impacts with depletion of water sources and production acreage. Consumers are being encourages to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and other products at local farm stands and retail stores throughout the Commonwealth. 

According to its individual plan definition, the MA Water Resources Authority (MWRA) water supply system is not experiencing drought conditions. Private wells, local streams, wetlands, vernal pools, and other water-dependent habitats located within MWRA-serviced areas are beign impacted by drought conditions while water quality in ponds can deteriorate due to lowering levels and stagnation. 

To view the full press release, click here

Drought Update Graphic
 
UPDATE: AUGUST 24, 2022
 
Drought conditions continue to worsen across the state with the Cape Cod Region being elevated to a Level 3-Critical status. The Western and Islands Regions were also elevated, both to a Level 2-Significant status. The risk of wildland fires is also continuing to increase with below average precipitation across the state. State officials continue to urge the public to practice water conservation methods and adhere to local requirements to decrease stress on our water systems and ensure essential needs, such as drinking water, habitat, and fire suppression, are being met. Recent rainfall experienced in many areas helps, but is not enough to end the drought - overall precipitation numbers are trending below average for the month of August, and is impacting resources across the state. Low stream flow, dry river and pond beds, high temperatures in air and water, and algal blooms are being seen more and more, and groundwater levels are declining in every region.
 
Fire activities are increasing, and wildfires in remote areas with delayed response times are now burning deep into the organic soil layers. Worsening drought conditions and increased stress on water supply systems are resulting in fire suppression challenges and extended incident time frames and impacts. The MA Department of Conservation has implemented a temporary ban on all open flame and charcoal fires within state park boundaries which will be in effect indefinitely until further notice - small portable propane grills are still allowed at campgrounds and recreation areas where grilling is permitted, but caution is still being urged. There are currently over 12 wildfire incidents active across the state which require daily mop up and monitoring, and over 840 wildfires have burned approximately 1,432 acres so far this season.
 
The agricultural sector continues to encounter drought-related challenges as well, including depletion of water sources and production acreage, high temperatures and low soil moisture, increased need for regular irrigation of crops due to lack of precipitation, and significant increases in operating costs. Consumers are being encouraged to shop for fruits, veggies, and other products locally and support local farm stands and retail stores. The USDA has announced designation of nine MA counties (including Essex) as primary natural disaster areas and three counties as contiguous disaster areas due to the drought. This designation allows farm operators in these counties to be eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency. For more information on this, please visit the USDA's Disaster Assistance Program webpage.
 
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority has stated that their water supply system is not experiencing drought conditions as defined within its individual plan. Private wells, local streams, vernal pools, wetlands, and other water-dependent resources within MWRA-serviced areas are being impacted by drought conditions.
 
Practicing water conservation now will greatly help to reduce water use and stress on water resources so that essential needs can be met in the long-term. MA Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg has stated that "the need for conservation of water has never been greater, citizens are again encouraged to conserve water and follow the conservation measures established by their local water suppliers."
 
To view the full press release, click here.
Drought Update
 
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 8, 2022
 
With the exception of the Southeast Region, which has seen improvement at the regional scale, all area drought statuses will remain the same. The Southeast Region was knocked down to a Level 2-Significant drought status, along with the Western and Islands regions which remain at that status level since their declaration on August 24th. The CT River Valley, Ventral, Northeast, and Cape Cod regions all remain at their Level 3-Critical drought status. Unfortunately, the recent rainfall across the state has offered very little reprieve from drought conditions. EEA Secretary Beth Card noted that, while some improvements to stream flow and local water supplies have been observed, we still have a ways to go, and Secretary Card continues to urge adherence to local water use requirements and practicing water conservation to ensure that essential needs such as drinking water, fire suppression, and habitats can continue to be met. MEMA Acting Director Dawn Brantley noted that the drought impacts have taken moths to develop, and will not be resolved in just a few days of rain. Until we get additional significant rainfall, we must continue to be mindful of day-to-day water use and vigilant when it comes to preventing brush and wildfires. 
 
Recent rains have helped to reduce the short-term fire danger, but the DCR continues to indefinitely implement the temporary ban on open flame and charcoal fires within state park properties. The agricultural sector continues to be impacted by ongoing drought conditions. Impacts vary across the state, but include depletion of water sources and production acreage, increase in need for irrigation of crops, lower than normal yields, undersized fruits and vegetables, and higher operating costs. Consumers are encouraged to visit local farm stands and retail stores for your fresh fruits, vegetables, and other products. The USDA has announced designation of nine MA counties (including Essex) as primary natural disaster areas and three counties as contiguous disaster areas due to the drought. This designation allows farm operators in these counties to be eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency. For more information on this, please visit the USDA's Disaster Assistance Program webpage. The US Small Business Administration has also announced that federal Economic injury Disaster Loans are now available in these counties - small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations with economic losses due to drought would be eligible for the loans. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority has stated that their water supply system is not experiencing drought conditions as defined within its individual plan. Private wells, local streams, vernal pools, wetlands, and other water-dependent resources within MWRA-serviced areas are being impacted by drought conditions.
 
Practicing water conservation now will greatly help to reduce water use and stress on water resources so that essential needs can be met in the long-term. MA DEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg noted that it takes time to recover from drought conditions, and water users should continue to follow the advice of their public water system and conserve as much water as possible.
 
To view the full press release, please click here.
Drought Graphic