Berkshire County Remains In Mild Drought Conditions

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BOSTON — Berkshire County remains in mild drought conditions, unchanged from last month.
 
Due to several significant rain events occurring throughout most of Massachusetts during late April and early May, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides announced that conditions have improved in the Northeast and Southeast Regions of the Commonwealth, and declared Level 0-Normal Conditions in each region while the Western, Connecticut River Valley, Central, and Cape Cod Regions remain at a Level 1-Mild Drought, unchanged from last month. The Islands Region remains at a Level 0-Normal Conditions, unchanged from last month.
 
"While recent rain events over the last few weeks have resulted in substantial improvement in the Northeast and Southeast regions, drought conditions remain in many areas of the Commonwealth," said EEA Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. "As we continue to respond to these drought conditions and closely monitor key data points to ensure a full recovery for our natural resources, we urge residents and businesses to be mindful of their water use and to conserve as much water as possible to help protect our local water systems."
 
As outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, a Level 1-Mild Drought warrants detailed monitoring of drought conditions, close coordination among state and federal agencies, and technical outreach and assistance to the affected municipalities. The Southeast Region, which was in a Level 2-Significant Drought last month, saw significant improvement over recent weeks in precipitation, streamflow, and groundwater, leading to a declaration of normal conditions. The Northeast Region, which was in a Level 1-Mild Drought last month, saw improvement in precipitation and groundwater, while streamflow remained steady.
 
"As we all spend time outdoors this spring, it's important to remember that parts of the state remain in a drought despite recent improvements and to be aware of the increased risk of brush and forest fires due to the dry conditions," said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Samantha Phillips. "We urge residents to exercise caution when using backyard fire pits, charcoal grills, matches, and other open flames during outdoor activities and to call 911 immediately if there is a fire to prevent the fire from spreading."
 
For Region in Level 1 - Mild Drought
Residents and Businesses:
  • Toilets, faucets and showers are more than 60 percent of indoor use.  Make sure yours are WaterSense efficient;
  • Limit outdoor watering to 1 day a week (only from 5:00PM – 9:00AM), or less frequently if required by your water supplier;
  • Switch to more drought-tolerant plants.
These declarations are the result of a recommendation issued by the state's Drought Management Task Force, which is composed of state and federal officials, and other entities. The taskforce will continue to meet until water levels return to normal in the affected regions.
 
As the weather continues to encourage outdoor recreation and the growing season advances, state officials ask the public to be mindful of water use, in particular outdoor water use. The public is recommended to shift to non-lawn/non-grass landscapes, increase plantings of drought tolerant species, and install rain collection systems to help with watering of outdoor plants and vegetable gardens.
 
During the last 12 months of dry conditions, water supply capacity has not been greatly impacted and remains in good condition due to water conservation measures, which have aided in the reduction of water use, and through natural replenishment of sources. For more information, please visit EEA's webpages on indoor and outdoor water use. While water supplies are currently doing fine, individuals are encouraged to also follow any additional watering requirements outlined by their community's Public Water Supplier. Additionally, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) water supply system is not currently experiencing drought conditions, as defined within its individual plan.
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Summer Fire Safety Tips

STOW, Mass. — State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey offered summer fire safety tips.  
 
"Between the pandemic and the long New England winter, we’re all itching to get outside and enjoy ourselves," said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. "Memorial Day weekend is a good time to prevent fires: tune up the grill; teach teens about gasoline safety; set up safe receptacles for smoking materials; and leave the fireworks to the professionals."
 
Grilling Safety
 
Between 2016 and 2020, Massachusetts fire departments responded to 427 fires involving grills, hibachis, and barbecues. These fires caused 15 civilian injuries, six firefighter injuries, and $4 million in property damage. In 2020 alone, there were 74 grill fires that injured one civilian, one firefighter and caused $454,250 in estimated damages.
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