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Drought conditions now a concern in New London County

New London County is the fifth county in the state to experience Stage 2 drought conditions that have the potential to affect water supplies, agriculture and natural ecosystems, state agencies announced Monday.

“As one of the hottest summers on record in Connecticut draws to a close, five Connecticut counties are experiencing the effects of prolonged precipitation deficits, the Interagency Drought Workshop, which comprises representatives of a half-dozen agencies, said in a news release. 

The group had announced Aug. 26 that conditions consistent with Stage 2 drought existed in Hartford, Litchfield, Tolland and Windham counties.

Conditions in eastern Connecticut have deteriorated rapidly in recent weeks, the group said, with stream flow and groundwater levels plummeting after a particularly dry August and first half of September. Firefighters throughout the region have responded to numerous reports of wildland fires, including a Windham fire that consumed 94 acres before being contained.

The dryness of the soil subsurface means that any fires that ignite are difficult to extinguish since they often smolder below ground, well out of reach. Residents are reminded to monitor daily forest fire danger reports and plan outdoor burning accordingly.

To ensure drinking water supplies remain adequate if the drought persists, residents and businesses in Stage 2 counties are being asked to voluntarily take the following measures:

· Reduce outdoor irrigation and other non-essential outdoor uses of water

· Postpone the planting of any new lawns or vegetation (if new plantings cannot be postponed, consider drought-tolerant species)

· Minimize overall water use by fixing leaky plumbing and fixtures

· Follow conservation requests or mandates issued by public water systems, municipalities, or state agencies

Stage 2 is the second of five stages of drought described in the Connecticut Drought Response and Preparedness Plan. If rainfall continues to be in short supply, the Interagency Drought Workgroup may recommend elevating the affected counties to Stage 3, necessitating more stringent conservation and mitigation measures.

The group comprises representatives of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Department of Public Health, the Office of Policy and Management, and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. The National Weather Service and the U.S. Geological Survey assist the group.

For more information about the group and the state drought plan, visit https://portal.ct.gov/Water/Drought/Drought-Home.

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