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The U.S. Drought Monitor map for New Hampshire, released Thursday, July 9, shows moderate drought in southern New Hampshire and abnormally dry conditions in the northern half of the state. The state Department of Environmental Services is asking people to conserve water during the drought. (COURTESY IMAGE)

CONCORD — With “moderate drought” conditions persisting across 56 percent of New Hampshire and “abnormally dry” conditions remaining in the northern part of the state, the New Hampshire Drought Management Team met Thursday to discuss drought conditions and impacts in the state.

The meeting kicked off with a review of what happened in the drought of 2016, the last substantial drought the state experienced. This was followed by State Climatologist Mary Stampone providing a briefing on the latest drought conditions and forecasts, which indicated that drought will likely persist through at least the end of July.

According to Stampone, the above average precipitation received at the end of June was only enough to stabilize drought conditions.

She also indicated that the precipitation forecast for the next few days will not be enough to make up for the precipitation deficit for the year nor the below normal precipitation and high temperatures expected over the coming month.

The National Weather Service is forecasting an 80 percent chance of rain overnight and during the day today, with a precipitation of about an inch possible. There is a further chance of showers off and on throughout the coming week, with high temperatures expected to be in the mid-80s and lows in the 60s.

The weather service said there is no hazardous weather expected at this time, adding "As Tropical Storm Fay is expected to pass farther west the threat for heavy rainfall has diminished. However, localized moderate to heavy rainfall is possible Friday night. Showers and thunderstorms are possible again Saturday afternoon. Some of the thunderstorms may be strong to severe."

Staff from New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services updated the team on water resource impacts and management efforts.

While lake levels are below normal, the foresight of the dam operations team has helped to mitigate the impact by holding back more water earlier in the season.

Rivers and streams around the state have been at or near historically low flows. Water management actions, such as reduced outdoor water use and switching to groundwater sources, have been implemented in the Lamprey and Souhegan River watersheds as a part of the Instream Flow Program.

In late June, DES conducted a release of water from dams on the Lamprey River watershed to provide relief to aquatic organisms.

Of the 31 monitoring wells across the state, the majority are much lower than normal, with water levels that dropped between May and June.

Large groundwater permit holders are being held to permit conditions related to reducing withdrawals during drought, and community water systems have been urged to implement outdoor water use restrictions.

To date, 117 community water systems have implemented restrictions.

DES continues to encourage the public to abide by water restrictions and be conservation-minded.

To view the latest drought conditions, the presentation slides from Thursday’s meeting, and information related to saving water and managing residential wells during drought, go to des.nh.gov and use the "A-Z list" and scroll down to "Drought Management."

The Drought Management Team is led by DES and is comprised of key representatives across state government, academia, industry and other organizations.

For more information, contact Stacey Herbold, DES Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau, at stacey.herbold@des.nh.gov or (603) 271-6685.

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