State Eyeing Low Snowpack as Risk Factor for Summer Water Troubles

Feb 26, 2020

NOAA hydrology map of spring 2020 conditions with flood hazard assessment for snowpack (based on Feb. 21, 2020 data). The "snow water equivalent" is generally below normal from the Saco and Pemigewasset river basins south to the Mass. border.

State regulators are monitoring how this winter’s low snowpack could affect water supplies in the dry summer months.

The state has between 60 and 75 percent less snow on the ground than average right now. State water division director Tom O’Donovan says that's just one source of the state’s drinking water and other water supplies – in reservoirs, lakes and wells.

“It’s snowpack, plus when does the ground thaw, plus spring rains, plus temperature and precipitation going into the summer itself,” O’Donovan says. “So all four of those factors help determine where we’re going to be at in water come summertime.”

Right now, the state is using dams to top up some surface water supplies, including on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Next, they'll monitor spring rainfall to help determine if drought conditions might be in the picture this summer. Right now, O’Donovan says there’s about a 50-50 chance that could happen.