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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services


A drought occurs when a region experiences below-average precipitation over an extended period of time, resulting in low stream flows and low surface water and groundwater levels. Many people mistakenly consider drought a rare and random event, but it is actually a normal, recurrent feature of climate. Although New Hampshire is typically thought of as a water-rich state, it may be even more susceptible to drought than other states due to its geology. Due to its small watersheds and many reservoirs constructed for recreation rather than water supply, New Hampshire does not have large stores of surface water that can mitigate long-term drought. The state is underlain by bedrock and water storage is limited to fractures, so it does not have the deep stores of water in groundwater aquifers; also, those areas of the state where unconsolidated materials provide better storage are fairly shallow. What this means is that drought preparedness and timely response is imperative to mitigating drought conditions.

In New Hampshire, drought response efforts are coordinated through a Drought Management Team (DMT), comprised of stakeholders representing specific activities or interests that can be impacted by drought and representatives from relevant state and federal agencies. The N.H. Department of Environmental Services is the lead agency for the DMT and designates an employee of the Department to serve as Chair of the DMT. The DMT meets as necessary on the call of the Chair to respond to drought conditions, as well as to continue drought preparedness and response planning. The DMT is responsible for many drought-related coordination activities, including assessing drought and water supply conditions and impacts, identifying additional drought and water supply assessment needs, and activating the Drought Response Plan. In general, drought response includes communicating drought status and impacts to the public; providing drought guidance to the public and impacted stakeholders; identifying available resources to help mitigate the drought and drought impacts; modifying operations of state and federally owned dams; and providing technical assistance. If the severity of a drought warrants escalated action, the DMT may assess the data needed for the Governor to request a Presidential Disaster Declaration or USDA Secretarial Declaration and may request activation of the N.H. Department of Safety’s Emergency Operations Center.

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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