CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Our very dry weather continues and according to the state’s current drought status, most of Western Massachusetts is experiencing both critical and significant drought conditions.

While the drought is worse on the eastern part of the state, here in western Massachusetts we are starting to see the effects with lower water levels in our rivers and streams.

Rivers and streams are running low in western Massachusetts due to the ongoing drought. Chicopee resident Dennis Robert has been enjoying the Connecticut river for 60 years. While out boating Wednesday, he noticed the difference, “The level of the river is very low. it has been lower, but I even hit bottom today. some places in the middle of the river it’s only two feet.”

22News Storm Team Meteorologist Adam Strzempko explains how the water level in rivers is key to determining a drought.

“When your talking about drought, you take into consideration a number of factors: how much rainfall we’ve had or haven’t had, you look at also the amount of moisture in the soil and you also look at the stream flow, so how the rivers are flowing, different streams as well and how low the rivers are.”

22News Storm Team Meteorologist Adam Strzempko

Last month’s rainfall was 3.86 inches, less than the normal for four point one we normally get in July. Most of the rainfall we’ve received so far this summer has been through thunderstorms which have been spotty and not widespread.

Duane LeVangie, Program Chief for Mass Department of Water Management Program, explained why low levels are a cause for concern, “A fair number of our rivers and streams contribute to water supply sources, so there’s a very valuable public health safety need when we get low.”

According to LeVangie, the best thing residents can do is reduce their non-essential water use and one of the biggest non-essential uses is lawn watering. Several western Massachusetts communities have already put water restrictions in place.

Connecticut River Valley in Significant Drought Status

Here is a look at the Massachusetts Drought Status Map and it shows Berkshire County in a Mild Drought. Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties are in a Significant Drought, and Worcester County and northeastern Massachusetts are in the Critical Drought Category.

(Mass.gov)

Western Massachusetts Water Restrictions:

  • Adams
  • Easthampton
  • Greenfield
  • Hadley
  • Montague
  • Northampton
  • Orange
  • Shelburne
  • Southwick
  • Ware
  • West Springfield
  • Williamstown
(Mass.gov)

Restriction Information

For Region 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 5:00 p.m. or before 9:00 a.m. one day a week.

Immediate Steps for Communities:

  • Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought.
  • Limit or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; operation of non-recirculating fountains; filling of swimming pools, hot tubs, and backyard informal rinks.
  • Implement drought or seasonal water rates.
  • 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;
  • Check emergency inter-connections for water supply; and
  • Develop a local drought management plan.

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