Boston — Following almost three months of normal or above normal rainfall, leading to the recovery of all indices, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides today declared an end to the drought in the Commonwealth and a Level 0 – Normal Condition in all seven regions of the state – Western, Connecticut River Valley, Central, Northeast, Southeast, Cape Cod and Islands regions. All seven regions were experiencing Level 1-Mild Drought conditions last month. The declarations were the result of a recommendation issued from a recent meeting of the Drought Management Task Force, comprised of state and federal officials, and other entities.
“With last month bringing increased rainfall after steady improvement throughout the fall, and thanks to the efforts of local water resource management practices and conservation efforts by members of the public, I am pleased to declare that the Commonwealth is no longer experiencing drought conditions,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Going forward, it’s important that we all continue to conserve water to ensure that when the Commonwealth experiences dry conditions in the future we can minimize strain on our water resources and local water supplies.”
“While we are fortunate that drought conditions have ended for now, all of us should make indoor and outdoor water conservation part of our daily life,” said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Samantha Phillips. “This will help us preserve this vital resource and mitigate the effects of the next drought.”
The declaration was informed by recommendations and discussions from the January 6, 2020 meeting of the Drought Management Task Force (DMTF), composed of state and federal officials and other entities, and will remain in effect until water levels return to normal in the affected regions. The declaration of a Normal Condition means that the Drought Management Task Force no longer meets on a regular basis; however, 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.
The month of December brought above normal amounts of rainfall across all regions of the Commonwealth. Streamflow, Groundwater, and Lakes and Impoundments have completely recovered at the regional scale. Normal Condition levels, as outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, indicate precipitation and groundwater levels that have returned to normal, and warrants routine data collection and distribution amongst government agencies.
State officials ask the public to be mindful of the amount of water they are using, residents are asked to reduce indoor water use, address leaks as soon as possible, and for larger buildings and businesses to conduct water audits to identify areas of leaks and potential water conservation. 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 recover, and to sustain our water supplies and have enough for the environment.
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.
“While the recent data is good news, this event underscores the value of being careful and conserving water,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “We will continue our efforts to help local water suppliers and inform the public on good, easily implementable practices.”
Last year, EEA completed a two-year process and updated the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan to better assess drought conditions across the state and maximize the state’s ability to prepare for and respond to a drought. The Plan also provides guidance to communities on drought preparedness and outlines response actions that can be taken at the local level.
For further information on water conservation and what residents and communities can do, visit the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ drought page.