The lack of rainfall over the past four months is being felt across Massachusetts, as 90 percent of the state is now experiencing drought conditions, officials said.
On July 12 Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Bethany Card declared that there was a “significant” drought in the Connecticut River Valley, central, northeast and southeast parts of the state, and a mild drought in western Massachusetts, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard.
According to the latest map from the US Drought Monitor, the northeast part of the state is experiencing severe drought conditions. That level of dryness means specialty crops can be impacted in both yield and fruit size; trees become brittle and susceptible to insects; fish kills occur; wildlife move to farms to find food; water quality becomes poor; groundwater declines; and irrigation ponds dry up.
Danielle Dolan, deputy director of the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance, said the drought would not only make lawns go dry; People who use well water could even see their wells go dry. Local farmers will also be impacted due to lower harvests, she said.
“The local farmers are going to be struggling financially,” Dolan said in a phone interview Thursday. “We’ll see a significant impact to our agricultural economy, with smaller harvests of cranberries, corn, and tomatoes.”
Dolan said there could be other impacts as well. When there’s less water, the water heats up and holds less oxygen, which can lead to fish kills and algal blooms, she said.
State officials are reminding the public to limit outdoor watering. In areas experiencing significant drought conditions, outdoor watering should only be done with hand-held hoses or watering cans before 9 am or after 5 pm, when the sunlight is less strong to avoid evaporation, officials said.
State officials are also encouraging people to conserve water by doing the following:
- Conduct “water audits” on larger buildings and businesses to identify leaks and potential water conservation opportunities.
- Address leaks as soon as possible.
- Reduce lawn watering.
- Use a rain barrel to harvest rainwater for outdoor watering.
“As the summer continues and low precipitation couples with high temperatures, it is incredibly important that outdoor watering be limited, coupled with the planting of drought tolerant plants to further reduce the strain on local water systems,” officials said on the state’s website. “Drought-like conditions can also be detrimental to delicate habitats and ecosystems, and can directly impact outdoor recreational opportunities.”
Emily Sweeney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney and on Instagram ily emilysweeney22.