August 13, 2022

Lamont urges CT residents to limit water use as drought worsens

As drought conditions continue to spread across Connecticut, authorities on Thursday began advising residents to reduce water use and avoid unnecessary irrigation of lawns and gardens.

Warm weather and clear skies that plagued southern New England in June – drawing crowds of swimmers to shore – continued to cause parched conditions in the region, weather experts said. All of Connecticut is currently experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions, according to the US Drought Watchwho did not report any of these conditions in the state three months ago.

Governor Ned Lamont on Thursday approved a recommendation from the state’s Interagency Drought Task Force to declare an “emerging drought event,” prompting officials to ask residents to take voluntary action to reduce their water consumption. ‘water.

“Residents should be mindful of their water use and take reasonable steps to reduce impacts on other water uses and the environment,” Lamont said. “We need to start now to mitigate the risk of damage should the drought continue.”

Gary Lessor, the Connecticut Weather Center’s chief meteorologist, said Thursday that parts of Connecticut along the coast have seen rainfall two inches below normal since June 1, and more than 5.5. Inches below par since the start of the year.

Further inland, near Hartford, the lessor said rainfall was also below historical averages, but not as much.

“We’re starting to see the drought accelerating,” the lessor said, adding “We don’t really see any big changes in the forecast for September.”

Dry conditions are not unheard of in Connecticut, which has entered its current phase, phase two, of drought management five times in the past two decades, the most recent in 2020. This drought, which lasted several months, finally reached phase three levels. and prompted federal disaster declarations in parts of Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts.

So far, however, no negative impacts such as dewatering of wells or lowering of reservoirs in Connecticut have been reported, said Martin Heft, undersecretary in the Office of Policy and Management and president. of the Interagency Drought Working Group.

“If that were the case, we would probably already be at a different stage,” Heft said.

Mandatory water restrictions don’t go into effect until state phase four drought mitigation plan, says Heft. At this point, according to the plan, farmers could experience total crop loss and utilities would have to take emergency action in response to the drought.

In a letter to public water systems and local health officials on Thursday, the head of the Public Health Department’s Environmental Health and Drinking Water Branch, Lori Mathieu, asked officials review their contingency plans and notify the agency of any worsening drought conditions.

Dry weather began in Connecticut shortly before the start of the annual harvest season for strawberries and other early summer fruits, prompting some eastern Connecticut farmers to increase irrigation of their fields.

Don Tuller, the owner of Tulmeadow Farm in Simsbury, said the drought had caused a slight setback for his hard-to-irrigate pumpkin and sweet corn crops. He said he heard farmers in other parts of the state complaining that their fields looked as parched as they normally did at the end of August.

“It really depends on where you are, what your crop is, and whether or not you have irrigation,” Tuller said, adding that larger farms tend to have sophisticated and expensive irrigation systems to help them cope. through dry spells.

“There are a lot of people who just don’t have the ability to do that,” he said.

The lessor – whose forecast called for a hot, dry summer earlier this year – said Thursday that temperatures will continue to rise in Connecticut as August approaches and drought conditions are likely to worsen. .

“One thing that could end everything very quickly would be a tropical system,” Lessor said, referring to a hurricane or tropical storm. “But at this point, there’s really nothing there.”

The Atlantic hurricane season, which began in June, is expected to be particularly busy this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. So far, there have been three named storms, none of which have made landfall in the northeastern United States.

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