The National Drought Mitigation Center confirmed on Thursday what most people in Andover and most of northeastern Massachusetts already knew: the region has entered a ‘severe drought.’
In Andover, the dry conditions sparked a massive brush fire on Tuesday and had the Department of Public Works urging residents to conserve water. The town’s water demand between mid-June and mid-September typically increases by 6,300 gallons per minute.
NDMC said in the past, impacts of a severe drought have included:
- Smaller yields and size for specialty crops.
- Hay prices can increase as producers have to switch cattle off of grass.
- Warnings and bans on outdoor fires.
- Poor air quality.
- Golf courses are urged to conserve water.
- Trees become brittle and more susceptible to insects.
- Fish kills.
- Wildlife move to farms and residential areas searching for food.
- Poor water quality, including a decline in groundwater and drying irrigation ponds.
- Outdoor water restrictions are implemented.
Most areas of Massachusetts had under 2.5 inches of rainfall in June, well below the usual June average of nearly four inches, and that dry weather has continued into July. Unlike several other area towns, Andover has yet to implement outside water use restrictions, but the DPW is urging Andover residents to take the following steps to conserve water:
- Water lawns after the sun goes down or before it comes back.
- Don’t overwater. Most lawns only require one inch per week, including rainfall. Overwatering can make lawns less susceptible to droughts.
- Sweep driveways, sidewalks and steps instead of hosing them off.
- Check spigots, hoses and connections for leaks.