As part of the Southeast of Massachusetts, Tri-Town is one of the areas hit hard by the dry summer the region has been experiencing, as evidenced by escalating water restrictions and extremely low water marks, most notably the Mattapoisett River.
After five straight months of dry conditions all throughout the Commonwealth, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton declared a number of drought levels in the state, with Southeast Massachusetts declared first a Drought Advisory and now a Drought Watch. A Drought Watch was issued for Central and Northeast Massachusetts.
“The declaration … represents the lasting agricultural, environmental, economic, and public safety impacts associated with prolonged drought conditions,” said Beaton in a press release. “The Baker-Polito Administration will continue to work with the Drought Management Task Force, government officials, and stakeholders to ensure appropriate actions are taken to minimize any harmful effects of the drought. The public is strongly encouraged to limit outdoor water usage, and integrate water-saving techniques into their daily routines.”
Groundwater levels and stream levels are also excessively low, with seasonal rainfall levels five to eight inches below the norm. A shortfall in winter precipitation preceded the summer dry spell, further affecting water levels.
With this comes the increased threat of brush and wildfires, so the public is encouraged to use extreme caution with matches, cigarette butts, and charcoal grills.
Mattapoisett Water & Sewer Superintendent Henri Renauld said the water supply for Mattapoisett as well as Fairhaven is relatively stable, but a meeting on Wednesday will determine if the two towns wish to move forward with a voluntary water ban.
“I think we need rain,” said Renault on Tuesday during a phone interview. “We may hopefully get the residents more aware so that we can be a little more careful with our water use in a time that’s so dry.”
With the Drought Watch, the state recommends that outdoor watering be limited to handheld hose use and watering cans after 5:00 pm or before 9:00 am to avoid evaporation loss. The filling of swimming pools, and washing vehicles and buildings should also be prohibited, recommends the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
“We are asking people to heed the restrictions put on non-essential outdoor water use – especially when lawn-watering – that local water suppliers are putting in place to conserve important resources under these adverse conditions,” stated Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “MassDEP will continue to provide technical assistance to water suppliers.”
By Jean Perry