With “moderate drought” conditions persisting across 56% of New Hampshire and “abnormally dry” conditions remaining in the northern part of the state, the NH Drought Management Team met to discuss drought conditions and impacts in the state last week.
According to State Climatologist Mary Stampone, the latest drought conditions and forecasts indicate that drought will likely persist through the end of July. According to Stampone, the above-average precipitation received at the end of June was only enough to stabilize drought conditions. She also indicated that the precipitation forecast for the next few days will not be enough to make up for the precipitation deficit for the year nor the below-normal precipitation and high temperatures expected over the coming month.
Staff from the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) updated the team on water resource impacts and management efforts. While lake levels are below normal, the foresight of the dam operations team has helped mitigate the effect by holding back more water earlier in the season. Rivers and streams statewide are at or near historically low flows.
Water management actions, such as reduced outdoor water use and switching to groundwater sources, were implemented in the Lamprey and Souhegan River watersheds as part of the Instream Flow Program. In late June, NHDES conducted a release of water from dams on the Lamprey River watershed to provide relief to aquatic organisms.
Of the 31 monitoring wells across the state, the majority are much lower than normal, with water levels that dropped between May and June. Large groundwater permit holders are being held to permit conditions related to reducing withdrawals during drought, and community water systems have been urged to implement outdoor water use restrictions. To date, 117 community water systems have implemented restrictions.
NHDES continues to encourage the public to abide by water restrictions and be conservation-minded. To view the latest drought conditions, the presentation slides from the meeting, and information related to saving water and managing residential wells during drought, go to www.des.nh.gov and use the "A-Z list" and scroll down to Drought Management.
The Drought Management Team is led by NHDES and is comprised of key representatives across state government, academia, industry, and other organizations. For more information, contact Stacey Herbold, NHDES Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau, at email@example.com or (603) 271-6685.