Historic Drought Conditions Continue for Commonwealth, Cape and Islands Downgraded to Drought Advisory

Monitoring of Water Resources to Continue, Water Conservation by Public Necessary

BOSTON – November 9, 2016 – While portions of Massachusetts have experienced
measurable amounts of rainfall in the past month, large portions of the state
continue to experience rainfall amounts remaining below average. As a result, Energy
and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton today declared the
following drought levels throughout the Commonwealth: a Drought Warning for the
Connecticut River Valley, Western, Central, Northeast, and Southeast Massachusetts,
unchanged for the Connecticut River Valley, Central, Northeast and Southeast
Regions, and up from a Drought Watch for the Western Region in October; and a
Drought Advisory for the Cape and Islands, down from a Drought Watch in October. The
declaration was the result of a recommendation issued from a recent meeting of the
Drought Management Task
comprised of state, federal and local officials, and will remain in effect until
water levels return to normal in the affected regions.

«While many communities throughout the Commonwealth have received rain during the
month of October, it is important to remember that over 80% of the state continues
to experience historic drought conditions, and several months of significant
precipitation are needed for water sources to truly rebound,» said Energy and
Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. «The Baker-Polito Administration
asks that residents and communities continue to remain diligent in their efforts to
conserve water in order to ensure our reservoirs, groundwater, and stream flow
systems return to a more sustainable water level.»

«While we are grateful that four of the state’s six regions received above-average
precipitation in October, and that the public has taken conservation requests and
restrictions seriously and has significantly reduced water consumption, drought
conditions continue throughout the state and the need to conserve water remains a
priority,» said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Kurt

A Drought Warning, as outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management
Plan, indicates consecutive
months of groundwater, stream flow, and reservoir levels being below normal, and
initiates a much more concerted set of government responses including instating
water restrictions, and more intensified monitoring and coordination between the
agencies. Areas within the Drought Warning are currently experiencing precipitation
levels below normal for six out of seven consecutive months. The declaration of a
Drought Advisory indicates a level of dry conditions that warrants closer tracking
by government agencies.

[drought_status_map2016-October conditions]

While certain sub-regions within Central Massachusetts are experiencing much more
severe impacts, and areas within the Cape and Islands region are experiencing almost
normal conditions, the state continues to intensely monitor and assess the drought
situation, and any associated environmental and agricultural impacts. Furthermore,
the state asks the public to be mindful of the amount of water they are using, and
to eliminate or greatly reduce outdoor water use to ensure essential needs such as
drinking water, fire protection, and crop hydration are being met.

For Regions in Drought Warning:

* Outdoor water use should be eliminated.

For Regions in Drought Advisory:

* Outdoor watering with irrigation systems and sprinklers should be limited
to no more than one day per week; and

* Watering with a handheld hose should be limited to after 5pm or before 9am
(to avoid evaporative losses).

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) permits exempt
certain water uses from mandatory restrictions, including: for health or safety
reasons; the production of food and fiber; the maintenance of livestock; and to meet
the core functions of a business. MassDEP continues to provide technical assistance
to communities on managing systems, including assistance on use of emergency
connections and water supplies, as well as assisting towns on how to request a
declaration of drought emergency.

«The month of October has experienced generally good rainfall amounts, but we are
still in a significant drought that will take time to get back to normal,» said
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg.
«People should continue to use water wisely, and in particular, as the outdoor
water-use season ends, people should look to efforts within the home to conserve
water. Fixing leaky faucets, toilets and showerheads is a great way to conserve
water and save money.»

To aid farmers and other small businesses, the Baker-Polito Administration launched
the Massachusetts Drought Emergency Loan
and continues to work closely with the United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA), Farm Service Agency. As a result of USDA primary agricultural disaster
due to losses caused by drought, all Massachusetts counties are now eligible for
federal emergency loans through the Farm Service Agency to help recover from crop
losses. Additionally, all Massachusetts counties are eligible for federal emergency
loans as a result of a USDA primary agricultural disaster
due to crop losses of tree fruits like peaches that were caused by frost and freeze
occurring between February and May.

«Despite having received some much needed rainfall and the fall harvest winding
down, the ongoing drought conditions continue to adversely affect farmers across
Massachusetts,» said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux.
«We are committed to working with farmers not only through this difficult time, but
also to helping farmers adapt their operations in anticipation of future droughts
and environmental challenges. We encourage residents to buy local and continue to
support our hard-working farmers.»

Task Force officials noted that while reservoir levels, especially smaller systems,
are low for this time of year, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA)
water supply system is not currently experiencing drought conditions, as defined
within its individual plan.

«The Quabbin Reservoir is still within normal levels,» said MWRA Executive Director
Fred Laskey. «Although we still have a long way to go before we get to a drought
stage, we continue to encourage residents and businesses within our service area to
conserve water in their daily routines.»

The declaration of a Drought Warning and Drought Advisory requires the Drought
Management Task Force to meet on a regular basis to more closely assess conditions
across the state, coordinate dissemination of information to the public, and help
state, federal and local agencies prepare any responses that may be needed in the
future. The Task Force will next meet in December. For further information on water
conservation and what you can do, visit the Executive Office of Energy and
Environmental Affairs’ drought page, the
Department of Conservation and Recreation’s drought management
and the MassDEP Water Conservation