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Berkshire County In Mild Drought Conditions
08:07AM / Friday, June 11, 2021
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BOSTON — Although drought conditions have improved in some regions in the Commonwealth, Berkshire County remains in mild drought conditions.
 
With periodic precipitation events occurring throughout the Commonwealth in recent weeks, drought conditions, with the exception of groundwater in certain regions, improved or remained steady. As a result of recent data collections, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides  announced that the Western and Cape Cod Regions will remain at a Level 1-Mild Drought.
 
"This summer, the Commonwealth's drought monitor regions continue to experience fluctuations in conditions, which necessitates us all to take proactive water conservation steps to reduce the burden on our natural systems and public water supplies," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. "With the growing season and high water usage recreation months officially starting, we strongly recommend that both residents and businesses limit outdoor water use to safeguard vital water systems." 
 
As outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, 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.
 
Recommendations for regions in a Level 1-Mild Drought include:
 
Residents and Businesses:
  • Limit outdoor watering to 1 day a week (only from 5:00PM – 9:00AM), or less frequently if required by your water supplier;
  • Toilets, faucets and showers are more than 60 percent of indoor use.  Make sure yours are WaterSense efficient; and,
  • Switch to more drought-tolerant plants.
 
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.
 
Following a review of May data, it was determined that rainfall helped with recovery from deficits across much of the Commonwealth. Rainfall ranged from 5 to 6 inches (with some locations with higher totals), which was 1 to approximately 2 inches above normal. Lower rainfall totals of 3 to 5 inches were noted along far northern parts of Massachusetts and into the Berkshires, as well as the Outer Cape Cod and Nantucket area. In these locations, the rainfall was within an inch of normal.
 
"While we've seen improvements in drought conditions in some regions, it's important to be aware that the risk of brush and forest fires still exists," said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Deputy Director Patrick Carnevale. "MEMA reminds residents to continue exercising caution when using charcoal grills, backyard fire pits, and other open flame outdoor activities and to call 911 if a fire starts to prevent it from spreading."
 
Streamflow has also recovered across the state except for on Cape Cod, which is low due to being heavily influenced by groundwater levels. Groundwater recovery statewide was mixed. The Central and Northeast regions experienced the most recovery; the Western Region is still below normal; and groundwater levels in the Southeast and Cape Cod Regions continue to decline. The last few years of monitoring have indicated that the Southeast region in particular is experiencing far more fluctuations in hydrological conditions. Importantly, fire danger is in the normal range with minimized deep burning fire behavior.
 
The Drought Management task force will continue to meet once a month while regions of the state have been declared a Level 1-Mild Drought or higher, and will provide key recommendations to the EEA Secretary following an assessment of the previous month's data.
 
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