Severe drought hits state for first time in more than a decade

For the first time since 2003, parts of Maine are facing severe drought conditions, posing challenges for crops and bringing the state’s Drought Task Force to meet for the first time in fourteen years.

By the end of July, an estimated 14 percent of the state’s population was living in an area of severe drought, which is the third-highest level behind exceptional and extreme drought conditions.

Things have been worse before, but low snowfall still has officials who met Thursday concerned about ongoing dry conditions. That’s left groundwater levels at the lowest point in more than a decade in southern and central Maine, according to officials at the U.S. Geological Survey.

Maine’s faring better than much of the Northeast, according to the latest drought estimates from the National Drought Mitigation Center, but dry conditions are continuing to spread into the southern part of the state.

That’s posing challenges for some farmers and raising concerns about heightened fire danger that could last into the fall.

The conditions look far different than in 2002, however, when the least populated portions of the state faced extreme drought conditions, while more than 80 percent of people lived in area in a severe drought.

Still, emergency management planners said the drought task force plans to meet again in a month.

Though officials have placed no restrictions on water use, they did encourage residents to conserve water, point to conservation tips posted on the Maine Emergency Management Agency’s website.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.