• Sat. Dec 5th, 2020

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Most of Mass. under severe or extreme drought conditions, National Drought Monitor says

Most of Massachusetts is currently under “severe” or “extreme” drought conditions, the National Drought Monitor said Thursday.

An updated map released by the monitor Thursday said southeastern Massachusetts and the Cape and Islands were in the extreme drought category, as was a stretch of the northern part of Middlesex County.

The monitor describes extreme drought as a level that can bring significant crop and pasture losses, as well as “water shortages or restrictions,” according to its website.

Among the Massachusetts communities enacting restrictions Thursday was Cohasset.

Town officials said Thursday in a statement that a drought warning was “currently in effect for all residents,” and that the warning carries “stricter mandatory outdoor water restrictions” than those previously imposed on Sept. 1 due to “abnormally dry conditions.”

The stricter measures that took effect Thursday, the statement said, include a prohibition on using irrigation systems. In addition, officials said, a “handheld hose for ornamental plants and vegetable gardens is allowed daily, only between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. Monday-Saturday. No watering is allowed on Sunday.”

Meanwhile, most of central Massachusetts, southern Middlesex County, and Essex County in the northeastern part of the state were under “severe” drought conditions Thursday, according to the monitor.

The monitor says severe drought conditions can result in water shortages and some water restrictions, and crop or pasture losses are “likely.”

Lesser drought conditions were reported elsewhere in New England too.

According to the map, extreme drought conditions were being reported in northeastern Connecticut; the southern tip of Maine, as well as parts of Somerset County in the western part of the state and Aroostook County in the northeastern region; and the southeastern part of New Hampshire.

In addition, the monitor said, virtually all of Rhode Island was under extreme drought conditions Thursday. Governor Gina Raimondo had previously issued a drought advisory for the state in mid-September.

“I want to reassure Rhode Islanders that we have systems in place to respond to dry conditions, and we will continue to closely monitor the situation in the days and weeks ahead,” Raimondo said at the time in a statement. “We are encouraging residents and businesses to identify their water supplier and watch for any water restrictions in their area. I also want to remind Rhode Islanders to be considerate of their water usage, because we all play a role in our state’s water conservation efforts.”

Susan Licardi, who chairs the state’s Water Resources Board, said in the same statement that Rhode Island’s water system is designed to handle drought conditions.

Despite that, Licardi said, “it is important for the public to be aware and take precautionary steps. WRB staff and our partners will closely monitor conditions moving forward.”


Travis Andersen can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.

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