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Water Restrictions Spread In Southern N.H., As North Country Re-enters Drought

National Drought Monitor

Northern New Hampshire is officially back in a drought, and most of the rest of the state remains abnormally dry as of this week, according to the National Drought Monitor.

The dry conditions have now lasted more than a year, marking New Hampshire’s third prolonged drought in about 20 years.

State officials say it could spread and last through early fall without more sustained rainfall. The past year has seen below-normal levels for precipitation, groundwater and streamflows. For the past three months, most of the state has been about three inches below normal for rainfall.

Overall, climate change is increasing rain in the Northeast. But it's also making that rain more sporadic and raising temperatures, which contributes to these short-term droughts.

Several large utilities have kicked in mandatory limits on outdoor water use, including Pennichuck East Water Works and the Merrimack Village District in Southern New Hampshire. Salem, Exeter, Newmarket, Lebanon and Rollinsford also have mandatory water restrictions.

Several other systems have imposed voluntary limits. In all, more than 70 systems have some kind of restriction in place.

The state still has funding available to help homeowners whose private wells run dry due to drought. Residents with shallower wells, especially, are urged to be conservative with heavy water use for things like gardening.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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