Islands still face significant drought

Despite the rain, some parts of Massachusetts continue to experience drought conditions. — Courtesy EEA

Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) secretary Beth Card announced in a press release that despite the increased precipitation over the last few months, some regions in the state will continue to experience drought conditions, including the Islands. 

The Islands continue to experience Level-2, or significant, drought conditions despite the above-average rainfall it received brought on by the effects of Tropical Storm Nicole. 

“With significant rainfall occurring throughout much of the state, many of the commonwealth’s water systems are starting to rebound from long term drought,” Card said in the release. “While this is largely good news, portions of the state, such as the Merrimack River, Parker, and Ipswich River basins and the Islands region, continue to lag behind, so we ask that everyone continue to practice household water conservation as we move into the winter season.”

Martha’s Vineyard started experiencing Level-1, or mild, drought conditions in May, which worsened in August and continued to remain at significant drought levels.

The state release listed recommendations for communities experiencing significant levels of drought to take.

Residents and businesses are recommended to:

  • Minimize overall water use.
  • Limit outdoor watering to handheld hoses or watering cans, to be used only after 5 pm or before 9 am.
  • Follow local water use restrictions, if more stringent.

 Immediate recommended steps for communities include:

  • Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought. 
  • Limit or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; watering during or within 48 hours after measurable rainfall; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; filling of swimming pools.
  • Establish water-use reduction targets for all water users, and identify top water users and conduct targeted outreach to help curb their use.

 Short-term and medium-term recommended steps for communities include:

  • Establish a year-round water conservation program that includes public education and communication.
  • Provide timely information to local residents and businesses.
  • Implement or establish drought surcharge or seasonal water rates.
  • Check emergency interconnections for water supply.
  • Develop or refine your local drought management plan, using guidance outlined in the state Drought Management Plan.

“Thanks to the residents of the commonwealth for their efforts this summer to reduce demand on our water resources, which helped local suppliers to keep the water flowing,” Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection commissioner Martin Suuberg, whose department will “continue to provide technical assistance to communities,” said in the release. “As we change seasons, I’d ask residents to focus their efforts on reducing demand by looking inside their homes and making water conservation an important part of your activities.”

Some resources about water conservation the release listed included the EEA’s drought page and water conservation page, and the Massachusetts Drought Dashboard

The commonwealth is also “surveying the public for any drought impacts that are currently being experienced.” This survey, called the Massachusetts Water Impact Reporting, can be found at

The commonwealth’s Drought Management Task Force will meet on Zoom on Wednesday, December 7, at 1 pm. 


  1. I have an idea. Why don’t we create a tax on Vineyard homeowners’ real estate transactions so we can make it easier for more people to live here?

      • My mom and dad both passed away. Am I supposed to feel guilty because they loved me? For the last fifteen years since my mom passed away I have paid five or more mortgages every month, renting to islanders year round at a reasonable rate right through downturns in the economy. I also support a family, bought land in the Lt. Indus. zone, all without “help” from anyone other than my brother (also deceased). And it hasn’t been easy. It wasn’t for any of us. But these sacrifices were seen as worth it.

  2. No report of actual water levels here on the island, our water use, number of inches we get a year and what it is now. Sorry but this did not help me understand our water use and drought conditions here. I was told our issue is water tank storage and not our water level so much.

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