Baker urges conservation as drought worsens

Published: 8/19/2016 12:55:17 AM

NORTH ANDOVER (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged residents on Thursday to step up water conservation efforts after five months of abnormally dry conditions.

In its latest weekly map of the Northeast region, the U.S. Drought Monitor expanded the area now considered to be in extreme drought to include Boston and much of northeastern Massachusetts, as well as a portion of southern New Hampshire.

During a visit to Smolak Farms in North Andover, Baker asked the public to limit their use of water as much as possible for the foreseeable future.

“By minimizing water use, especially while outside, we will collectively take crucial steps necessary to enable ground water and reservoirs to rebound quicker as we work together to manage and reduce the effects of a statewide drought,” the Republican governor said.

Many cities and towns in Massachusetts already have issued mandatory restrictions on outdoor lawn watering and other activities.

Indoor water conservation steps could include taking shorter showers, washing only full loads of laundry or dishes, and turning off the tap while brushing teeth.

Secretary of Public Safety Daniel Bennett said Massachusetts had not yet reached the point where demand for water exceeds the available supply. But he said the state was developing plans to provide bottled water or tankers of potable water to hard-hit municipalities if needed going forward.

Two areas of New York, from the Buffalo area east to the Finger Lakes, and a portion of the state’s Southern Tier, also are in extreme drought, the fourth of the monitor’s five drought categories.

About 57 percent of the overall Northeast region is in drought, down from 60 percent last week. The region includes New England, the Middle Atlantic states, West Virginia, Delaware and Maryland, although the latter three are barely affected.

The monitor is a collaboration of federal agencies and the University of Nebraska’s National Drought Mitigation Center.


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