State Drought Task Force Says Rain Helpful, but Drought Continues

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AUGUSTA – The State’s Drought Task Force (DTF) met Thursday for the fourth time in as many months to reassess conditions related to the ongoing drought in Maine. Although recent rain has improved surface water levels across much of the state, ground water levels remain low.

“We are not out of the drought,” said Tom Hawley of the National Weather Service in Gray. “It took us a long time to get into this position and it will take a long time to get out.”

Hawley stated that the six to ten day forecast calls for higher than normal temperatures and lower than normal precipitation.

“The rain improved the overall monthly picture,” said Nicholas Stasulis, Data Section Chief, U.S. Geological Survey. “While groundwater levels remain low, we are seeing several surface water gauges in the normal range, with some in the low or very low category, but not record low.”

Ground water levels are expected to take longer to recover, with seven sites still showing the lowest levels on record.

Recent drought monitoring data show extreme drought status eliminated and severe drought status shrinking across Maine. Most of the state is now considered abnormally dry or in moderate drought status. Regionally, extreme drought is reported mostly in southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

“We continue to encourage those experiencing dry wells to call 2-1-1 or go to 211maine.org to report their issues,” said Tom Redstone, Maine Emergency Management Agency Natural Hazards Planner. “This helps us capture the data to determine how widespread the problem is as well as the areas that continue to be affected.”

The drought continues to cause a variety of problems across the state, including a ten percent reduction in hydro power production and a back-log of those needing new wells due to a lack of available well drillers.

Citizens were urged to avoid filling wells with foreign water due to the dangers of introducing bacteria and pathogens into the well or causing corrosion or lead problems. In addition, imported water could leach out in a matter of days, depending on the construction of the well. Instead, alternatives were suggested including lowering the pump, deepening the well, or installing a large storage tank for use during the drought.

Citizens continue to report dry wells and those who have seen recovery should continue to use water wisely, as the recovery may be temporary. Some every day conservation tips include:

  • Shorter showers
  • Not running water while brushing teeth or shaving
  • Fixing leaky sinks and toilets
  • Running full loads of laundry and dishes
  • Not peeling vegetables under running water
  • Using a bucket when washing cars rather than running a hose

More information on water conservation is available at Maineprepares.com.

Resources are posted at Maineprepares.com and will be updated as more become available. More resources may become available as conditions worsen, so reporting is very important.

The Task Force will continue to monitor the situation and plans to meet again in December. Reports will be available online at www.maine.gov/mema or can be obtained from MEMA by calling 207-624-4400.