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Drought conditions worsen in portions of New Hampshire

Date: September 17, 2020

Recent hot and dry conditions, following lack of snow pack and below average precipitation, have caused designation of portions of southern New Hampshire to escalate from moderate to severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Areas experiencing severe drought include Rockingham County, Merrimack County, over half of Strafford County, as well as a small area of Belknap and Hillsborough county. As of September 1, overall, 20% of the state is experiencing severe drought, 49% is experiencing moderate drought, and 31% is experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

The short-term forecast and longer term precipitation outlooks provide no assurance of receiving the widespread rain needed to mollify drought conditions. Additionally, groundwater levels across the state continue to fall. To continue to meet the basic water supply needs of the state’s communities, the NHDES urges residents to eliminate outdoor water use for lawn watering in areas experiencing moderate or severe drought and practice other conservation measures.

As water shortages are more common during drought, to protect public water supplies and residential well supplies, NHDES is urging community water systems and municipalities to impose strict mandatory outdoor water use restrictions, such as banning lawn watering and washing of cars. Currently, 143 community water systems and one municipality are implementing outdoor water use restrictions. Community water systems have the authority to restrict many types of outdoor water uses and the governing body of a municipality or village district has the authority to restrict lawn watering within political boundaries. The general public should abide by restrictions and if a restriction is not in place, take responsibility for limiting their own water use. The public is also encouraged to report any residential well shortages to NHDES using the Residential Well Impact Survey. For a link to the survey and more information related to drought conditions and drought conditions, go to the Drought Management webpage.

For more information related to the drought, please contact Stacey Herbold, NHDES Water Conservation Program, at stacey.herbold@des.nh.gov or (603) 271-6685.