Despite all the rain that came down Monday, state officials say eastern Massachusetts is experiencing a significant drought.
Due to much of the state receiving less than normal rainfall over the last several months, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Beth Card declared a Level 2-significant drought in both the northeast and southeast regions of the state on June 15.
Additionally, the Connecticut River Valley and Central Regions of the state were declared as having a Level 1-mild drought, joining Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, which were designated as having a Level 1 drought in May.
Right now, only the very western edge of Massachusetts and Cape Cod are not experiencing drought conditions.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, and Bristol Counties are experiencing the harshest drought conditions.
Bill Simpson, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Norton, said Massachusetts has gotten much less rainfall in the last few months than normal.
In April, he said, we got 2.32 inches of rain, where normally we would get around 3.6 inches. In May, he said, the rain deficit was even more dramatic, with the state receiving only 1.32 inches of rain, where normally we would get around 3.25 inches.
So far during the month of June, Simpson said, this trend has continued. Before Monday, Massachusetts had only received 1.68 inches of rain, where normally we would’ve received around 3.4 inches by this time in the month.
By 7:30 p.m. Monday, Simpson said, Massachusetts had gotten .64 inches of rain.
“It helps, but it’s not nearly enough to really put a big impact into the drought,” Simpson said. “You need a couple of really good, normal months, which at this point is probably almost four inches of rain per month.”
The EEA said in a news release that a Level 2 drought warrants the convening of an inter-agency mission group to more closely coordinate on drought assessments, impacts, and response within the government.
“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, ” Card said in the release.
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Acting Director Dawn Brantley said in the release that residents should follow any local water restrictions, minimize water usage, and be cautious when using charcoal grills, matches, fire pits, and other open flames.
Those living and working in an area experiencing a Level 2 or Level 1 drought are encouraged to reduce their general water usage and limit outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans, to be used only after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m. one day a week.
Importantly, the EEA said, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) water supply system is not currently experiencing drought conditions. Although communities serviced by the MWRA will not have water supply issues, those with private wells, as well as local streams, wetlands, and other habitats will be impacted.
“Now is the time to implement conservation measures and to reduce our water demand,” Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg said in the release. “Changes now may help reduce larger problems later on, should dry conditions continue.”
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