Abnormal heat and limited rain has led to drought conditions across several parts of Massachusetts.
On Friday, the Commonwealth declared a Level 2- Significant Drought in the Connecticut River Valley, Western, Central, and Northeast regions.
A Level 2 declaration indicates that conditions are significantly dry and should be monitored, according to the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan. Federal and state agencies could make water conservation efforts such as mandating watering restrictions, and providing water assistance for the affected areas.
The Drought Management Plan also calls for residents to limit outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans and use them only after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m., one day a week. Residents are also encouraged to limit washing hard surfaces like patios and driveways, cars and boats, and filling swimming pools and hot tubs.
“While the dry conditions continue and as we enter the summer months, we ask residents and businesses to aggressively conserve water and take increased care with any outdoor burning,” Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides said in a public statement Friday.
The drought is due to a combination of the recent heat and the below normal rainfall since May. Total rainfall has been one and a half to three inches below normal for the months of May and June, the state's Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs wrote in public statement.
The drought has also increased the risk of wildland fires. There were 110 wildfires within the last month, and the drought conditions have made it challenging for firefighters. In some cases, it has taken multiple days to contain them.
“Because of the increased threat of brush and wildland fires due to the dry conditions, the public is urged to exercise caution when using charcoal grills, matches, and other open flames during outdoor activities and to call 911 immediately if there is a fire to prevent the fire from spreading," MEMA Director Samantha Phillips said in a public statement.
The declaration is expected to remain in effect until water levels return to normal in the affected regions.