BOSTON (WWLP) – Several regions across the Commonwealth remains in a critical drought, according to the Massachusetts Drought Management Task Force. However, one region has improved since the last report.

The Southeast Region saw an improvement in drought conditions and has been changed from a Level 3 – critical drought to Level 2 – significant drought. This is a sign that the recent rainfall did help the state in some much needed relief but only a little. The recent rain also helped lower fire danger and decrease the potential for wildfires.

“While recent precipitation across the state has brought some improvements to streamflow and local water supplies, we still have a ways to go. The Commonwealth continues to experience widespread drought in every region of the state,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “To avoid overstressing water systems, we all must adhere to local water use requirements and practice water conservation methods in an effort to ensure essential needs, including drinking water, fire suppression, and habitats, continue to be met.”

“While a good deal of helpful rain has fallen over the past few days in many areas of the Commonwealth, it is important to remember that the drought’s impacts have taken months to develop and will take more than a few days of rain to resolve,” said MEMA Acting Director Dawn Brantley. “Hopefully, we will continue to get additional rain, but until then, we need to continue to be mindful about our day-to-day water use and remain vigilant in preventing brush and wildfires in our communities.”

A temporary ban on all open flames and charcoal fires within state parks remains in effect. Small portable propane grills are still allowed at campgrounds and recreation areas where grilling are permitted.

The recent report from the Massachusetts Drought Management Task Force is different from the U.S. Drought Monitor, which now says Hampden County and part of Hampshire County are in a moderate drought instead of a severe drought. Most of Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire County remain in the severe drought category but the good news is that eastern Franklin County, which was in the extreme drought category, is gone and things have improved to the east as well.

Recommendations for Regions in Level 3 – Critical Drought

Residents and Businesses:

  • Minimize overall water use.
  • Stop all non-essential outdoor watering.


Immediate Steps for Communities:

  • Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought; Level 3 restriction calls for a ban on all nonessential outdoor water use.
  • Provide timely information on the drought and on water conservation tips to local residents and businesses.
  • Enforce water use restrictions with increasingly stringent penalties.
  • Strongly discourage or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; filling of swimming pools.
  • Establish or enhance water-use reduction targets for all water users and identify top water users and conduct targeted outreach to help curb their use.

Short- and Medium-Term Steps for Communities:

  • Establish a year-round water conservation program that includes public education and communication.
  • Implement or establish drought surcharge or seasonal water rates.
  • Prepare to activate emergency inter-connections for water supply.
  • Develop or refine your local drought management plan using guidance outlined in the state Drought Management Plan.

“Under current drought conditions, it is critically important that all residents heed their water suppliers’ requests to cut back on nonessential water use,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “Cutting back on outdoor water use and following local conservation requirements will help sustain our water sources until precipitation rates can rebound.”

Recommendations for Regions in Level 2 – Significant Drought

Residents and Businesses:

  • Minimize overall water use.
  • Limit outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans, to be used only after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m.
  • Follow local water use restrictions, if more stringent.

Immediate Steps for Communities:

  • Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought; Level 2 restriction calls for limiting outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans, to be used only after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m. If local restrictions are more stringent, continue to keep them in place during the course of the drought.
  • Limit or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; watering during or within 48 hours after measurable rainfall; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; filling of swimming pools.
  • Establish water-use reduction targets for all water users and identify top water users and conduct targeted outreach to help curb their use.

Short- and Medium-Term Steps for Communities:

  • Establish a year-round water conservation program that includes public education and communication.
  • Provide timely information to local residents and businesses.
  • Implement or establish drought surcharge or seasonal water rates.
  • Check emergency inter-connections for water supply.
  • Develop or refine your local drought management plan using guidance outlined in the state Drought Management Plan.

Current Water Use Restrictions:

Credit: Mass.gov

The following cities and towns in western Massachusetts are under a mandatory water use restriction: (as of September 2)

  • West Springfield
  • Southwick
  • Easthampton
  • Northampton
  • Hadley
  • Belchertown
  • Ware
  • Sunderland
  • Shelburne
  • Greenfield
  • Orange
  • Williamstown
  • Adams
  • Cheshire
  • Dalton
  • Hinsdale

The following cities and towns are under a voluntary water use restriction:

  • Montague