With More Dry Weather In The Forecast, Southern N.H. May Be Headed For Severe Drought | New Hampshire Public Radio

With More Dry Weather In The Forecast, Southern N.H. May Be Headed For Severe Drought

Jul 30, 2020

Map of drought in New Hampshire. Areas in peach are experiencing moderate drought. Areas in yellow are experiencing abnormally dry conditions. Map updated July 28, 2020 at 8 a.m. EDT.
Credit U.S. Drought Monitor

With dry weather in the forecast, experts say southern New Hampshire could be headed for a severe drought within the next three weeks.

The southern half of the state has been experiencing moderate drought conditions since June.

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Tom O’Donovan, Director of the Water Division for the state’s Department of Environmental Services, says passing thunderstorms have provided some relief, but more so in the north than in the south.

“The 30-day forecast continues to forecast for drought,” he says. “Higher temperatures and lower precipitation is in the 14-day forecast and continued drought is in the 30-day forecast. So the trends don’t look good.”

O’Donovan says groundwater levels continue to fall in many areas, and most lakes and reservoirs are at or slightly below average levels. Surface waters remain low across the state.

So far, about 130 of the state’s water systems and one municipality have implemented water use restrictions. Ninety-four of those restrictions are mandatory, and the rest are voluntary.

“Mandatory restrictions are much more effective at water management,” says O’Donovan. “Voluntary restrictions essentially don’t work well.”

The state’s water division is encouraging all water systems to look carefully at their supply and at the forecast and draw their own conclusions about implementing water restrictions, and encourages water restrictions where appropriate. O’Donovan also recommends conservation efforts for citizens on residential wells.

“Many of them don’t know what level their well is,” he says. “Our recommendation to them is that they should begin conservation now based on the 30-day forecast.”