AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s Drought Task Force met on Thursday for the first time in 14 years because precipitation levels have been lower than normal the last six months and surface and groundwater levels in parts of the state are down correspondingly.
The task force is composed of state, federal and private scientific, agricultural, regulatory, water use and natural resources organizations.
The National Weather Service expects the trend of dry weather to continue for at least the next few weeks, while a dry fall and another winter with low snowfall could worsen drought conditions.
“We have been monitoring the situation for some time because of the low snowfall last winter,” Bruce Fitzgerald, director of Maine Emergency Management Agency, said in a press release. “State weather and water level experts are keeping us informed, and although there have been no reports of major issues related to the dry weather conditions, water levels have changed in the last couple of weeks.”
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that surface and groundwater levels in July were generally normal in the northern half of the state but below normal in southern Maine.
“Particularly, groundwater wells in Sanford and Poland indicated the lowest levels we’ve seen in the month of July in the last 2-3 decades,” said Nicholas Stasulis, data section chief of U.S. Geological Survey. “Current surface water levels indicate a moderate to severe hydrologic drought for basins in the lower two-thirds of the state. Groundwater and surface water levels are well-below normal for this time of year, especially in the southern half of Maine.”
That has farmers in the southern part of the state concerned about water levels in wells.
Steps to preserve water include checking for leaks and fixing them, ensuring dishwashers and washing machines are fully loaded before they are used, avoiding filling wells by a water hauler or fire department, spacing out water usage to avoid a temporary shortage, assuring containers and the water source are clean if using drinking water from an outside source, using a licensed well driller or pump installer to check water levels, and reporting water supply problems to your town.