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    Saturday, November 26, 2022

    Conn. summertime drought is easing

    The summertime drought is easing, prompting Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday to downgrade warnings for eastern Connecticut.

    Hours earlier, the Interagency Drought Working Group representing several state agencies recommended all counties move to Stage 2 drought conditions, lowering the threat in Windham and New London counties from Stage 3. The other six counties were kept at Stage 2.

    Connecticut operates with five levels of drought declarations. Stage 1 represents below normal conditions and Stage 5 is the most extreme, with the governor likely to declare a civil preparedness emergency or public health emergency.

    Stage 3 identifies a moderate drought that potentially affects water supplies, agriculture or natural ecosystems. Stage 2 indicates an emerging drought and is intended as an “awareness stage” of the possibility of a developing drought.

    “While recent rainfall over the past couple of weeks have brought some relief to Connecticut, particularly in New London and Windham counties, we are still seeing precipitation levels that remain slightly below normal,” Lamont said. “I am hopeful that in the coming weeks our precipitation levels will be back to normal.”

    Conditions are improved in early fall over the summer, but the governor urged residents to mind their water use.

    Chris Collibee, a spokesman for the state Office of Policy and Management, said the Stage 2 declaration was kept in place to “keep awareness of possible drought conditions” because several communities have voluntary or mandatory water restrictions.

    The Interagency Drought Working Group will again evaluate conditions in November.

    Recent rain, sometimes downpours, in the Hartford area has erased a deficit, according to the National Weather Service. Normal precipitation is about 35.4 inches for the year and so far about 36.5 inches of rain have been recorded, said meteorologist Bill Leatham.

    Connecticut, Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire are experiencing drought conditions more than most other areas in the Northeast, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

    Eastern Connecticut and central areas are considered “abnormally dry” and much of Litchfield County is in “severe drought,” according to the Drought Monitor. Parts of central Connecticut and the entire shoreline is in “moderate drought.”

    A lack of rain this summer forced officials to ask residents to reduce automatic outdoor irrigation, postpone the planting of lawns and vegetation and minimize waste by fixing leaky plumbing and fixtures.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently approved Connecticut’s request to apply a natural disaster declaration to all eight counties due to the drought. The federal agency recently approved a similar declaration for parts of Connecticut and its $4 billion agriculture industry.

    Agricultural producers in all eight counties are eligible to be considered for assistance, such as emergency loans, to production losses.

    The interagency working group includes officials from the state departments of Agriculture, Emergency Services and Public Protection, Energy and Environmental Protection, Public Health and Office of Policy and Management.

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