Drought conditions across Connecticut continue to get worse this fall, despite heavy rain across most of the state last week, prompting officials to elevate the drought status across most of the state again Monday.
Portions of Hartford, Tolland, Windham and New London counties are now classified at Stage 3 “moderate” drought conditions — out of five stages — a level issued only once before during an exceptionally dry stretch of 2016 and 2017, officials announced Monday. Middlesex County also was elevated to Stage 2 “emerging” drought conditions this week.
“Reports of low water levels in private wells, streams, agricultural water supplies, and fire suppression ponds have been increasing especially in eastern Connecticut,” the Connecticut Interagency Drought Workgroup said in a release Monday. “Due to the unusually dry soils, the rain that does fall does not soak into the ground and the threat of fire returns soon after the rain ends.”
The workgroup is not requiring any reductions in water usage for the impacted counties, but those in the Stage 3 areas are being asked to voluntarily reduce usage, especially outdoor uses, to avoid stressing water supplies further.
“Conditions can vary locally, inside and outside the Stage 3 area, and preparations are beginning for the possibility of targeted emergency response should conditions continue to worsen,” the workgroup wrote.
Middlesex joins Litchfield County at the Stage 2 drought condition, where officials also have asked residents to reduce non-essential outdoor water uses, like irrigation or new plantings.
Should the amount of water stored in reservoirs across the state dip further, some areas and municipalities could impose their own local limits on water usage to conserve supplies as the drought continues.
The Metropolitan District, the Hartford area’s water and sewer authority, noted Monday that its enormous reservoirs are still at about 83% capacity and no water usage restrictions are in place. That level in the reservoirs represents 552 days of supply for its customers, the utility reported.
For counties now in the Stage 3 designation, the workgroup recommends:
End irrigation of established lawns and limit other outdoor water uses;
Residents and businesses dependent upon private wells should limit water use to only essential needs to reduce the chance of well depletion (see guidance for private well users);
Prepare for using alternative water sources in the event wells, farm ponds, fire suppression supplies, or other critical water sources become depleted; and
Avoid burning in or near woodlands or brushlands, and obey any municipal or state orders for outdoor burning bans
Zach Murdock can be reached at email@example.com.
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