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State Drought Task Force Says Drought Conditions Have Improved Across Maine

MAINE, October 7 - Back to current news.

October 7, 2022
Maine Emergency Management Agency

AUGUSTA, MAINE - Maine's Drought Task Force convened virtually yesterday, October 6, for the third time this season to discuss drought conditions across the state. Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor show nearly 8% of the state is abnormally dry (11 of 16 counties) and about 3% is experiencing moderate drought (6 of 16 counties) by area. An estimated 34% of Maine's population resides in abnormally dry or drought-stricken areas.

Following our last meeting, August ended with normal streamflow conditions through most of Maine. These conditions worsened through mid-September, but this below normal condition was brief, however, as late September rains flipped the trend to above normal streamflows.

August and September storms resulted in recharge in some of the groundwater monitoring wells hardest hit by drought and low snowpack over the last 2 years. While the recharge wasn't necessarily significant, it's a sign that intermittent storms are actually reaching the aquifers, instead of simply running off into streams, evaporating or quenching dry soil.

"Maine's water resources are starting to benefit from September rains, with streamflows in a mostly normal condition and below normal groundwater levels in western Maine showing improvement, as well," said Nick Stasulis, Data Section Chief of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Co-chair of the Drought Task Force. "Below normal streamflows in northern Maine remain an area to watch but aren't particularly concerning at this time."

A total of 95 dry private wells have been reported this season with 97% of those reported by the users as being residential. The month of August saw the greatest increase of dry wells reported this season. Maine homeowners with dry wells are encouraged to report this information on the Dry Well Survey. For assistance filling out the survey Mainers can either call 211 or 1-877-463-6207, or they can text their Maine zip code to 898-211.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Drinking Water Program (DWP) has not received any new reports of water quantity issues from public water systems (PWSs). The Stonington Water Company issued emergency mandatory water use restrictions on July 21, 2022, that are still in effect.

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestrys Maine Forest Service reports there have been 624 wildfires, burning a total of 390 acres, as of October 6, 2022. The five-year average is 646 wildfires.

The Maine Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, through the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry in partnership with multiple organizations in Maine, and managed by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, seeks applicants for Small Grants to Support Maine Agricultural Well-Being. Awards of up to $5,805 with a total of $46,440 available. Applications are open now until November 15th. Farmers may apply here.

The Drought Task Force is made up of state, federal and private scientific, agricultural, regulatory, water use and natural resources organizations and assists in monitoring, coordinating, and managing responses to droughts and recommends actions to minimize impacts to public health, safety, the environment, and agriculture. This concludes the scheduled virtual meetings for the 2022 Drought Task Force season unless conditions warrant an additional meeting in November.

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