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Posted on: June 22, 2020

IMPORTANT NHDES is Encouraging Residential Well Users to Conserve Water

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Amidst Abnormally Dry Conditions, NHDES is Encouraging Residential Well Users to Conserve and the Public to follow Water Use Restrictions


Concord, NH – According to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor released today, the entire state of New Hampshire has been categorized as abnormally dry. Over the last 60 days, the state has received significantly less than normal precipitation. The majority of Sullivan, Merrimack, Strafford, Rockingham, Hillsborough, and Cheshire counties have received 50 to 75% less precipitation than normal. The U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook for June indicates drought development is likely in these southern counties.


Director of the NHDES Water Division, Thomas O’Donovan notes that “New Hampshire is approaching a stage of drought because rainfall over the last two months is about 60% of normal, and New Hampshire had a significantly less-than-average snowpack this past winter. Consequently, stream flows throughout the state are very low and if these weather trends continue, groundwater levels and water supply wells throughout the state will soon begin to be adversely impacted. Two rivers, the Lamprey and Souhegan have had to implement low water actions from their watershed management plans, and other rivers may be impacted soon. Additionally, the NHDES Dam Bureau is closely monitoring and managing reservoirs across the State, as the weather is forecast to remain dry.”


NHDES encourages those relying on private residential wells to begin conserving now. Due to COVID-19, people are at home more often, which means a higher than usual demand on residential well supplies. To protect your well supply, it is recommended that outdoor water use be limited and water use be staggered, allowing the well time to recharge between demands. As drought conditions develop, more municipalities and water utilities will impose outdoor water use restrictions. NHDES urges the public to be conservation-minded and abide by restrictions. Also, finances for well improvements or to drill a new well may be very limited; therefore, during a drought, it is important to curb water use early.


To view the latest drought conditions and to find information related to saving water and managing residential wells during drought, go to www.des.nh.gov and use the "A-Z list" and scroll down to drought management  or just click here Drought Management.

UPDATED JUNE 26, 2020

Bow EM Team:

Moderate Drought Declared for Part of New Hampshire

Concord, NH - According to today’s U.S. Drought Monitor, the southern half of the state has been elevated from "Abnormally Dry" (D01) to "Moderate Drought" (D1), while the remainder of the state continues to experience "Abnormally Dry" (D0) conditions. These conditions, a result of an exceptionally low snowpack this winter and lack of precipitation, have impacted rivers and streams, groundwater, soil moisture, and reservoirs. Due to these conditions the State Drought Management Plan is being implemented. This plan ensures the State develops, coordinates and implements all possible approaches to responding to the drought. One of the first steps, based on the increasing intensity of the drought will be the initial coordination of the State Drought Management Team (DMT), a collaborative team of state, federal, municipal and regional agencies; industry and non-governmental organizations; and academia. Ongoing actions include: assessing reservoir impacts and adjusting operations, working with drinking water systems statewide and ensuring the public is informed of the impacts and conservation measures that should be employed now to avoid serious problems later in the summer.

Earlier this week, NHDES advised public water systems to carefully track water supplies and implement outdoor water use restrictions as needed. The state has requested systems report restrictions to NHDES to be publicized on the Drought Management webpage. Ninety-four systems have reported implementing outdoor usage restrictions.

NHDES is asking the public to abide by restrictions so essential and critical water needs of the community, residents, and businesses are met. NHDES encourages those relying on private residential wells to begin conserving now. Due to COVID-19, people are at home more often, which means a higher than usual demand on residential well supplies. To protect your well supply, it is recommended that outdoor water use be limited and water use be staggered, allowing the well time to recharge between demands.

Lake levels are starting to fall due to low inflows and evaporation. In an effort to slow the fall on the state’s largest lakes, releases from the dams that impound those lakes have been reduced to the minimum needed to maintain instream flow needs downstream. As a result, many of the small hydropower projects on the state’s tributary rivers are no longer able to generate power, although the hydropower projects on the main stem rivers, such as the Merrimack and Connecticut, continue to operate.

During drought conditions, it is especially important to be vigilant with wildfire prevention, especially making sure all fires are extinguished completely. Doing so can help reduce wildfire incidents and lower the potential for property loss, personal injury and even loss of life.

To view a map of drought conditions, a list of utilities restricting water use, and drought guidance for private well owners, go to the "A-Z list" at www.des.nh.gov and scroll down to Drought Management.

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