HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont declared all eight counties in Connecticut are experiencing Stage 2 drought conditions due to below-normal precipitation across the state on Tuesday.

Last week, the Regional Water Authority (RWA) asked its customers to reduce their water use by 10%.

Stage 2 is the second of five stages under the state’s drought plan adopted in 2018. It indicates an emerging drought event, that potentially impacts water supplies, agriculture, or natural ecosystems.

“I look at Stage 2 as a public awareness stage,” said Martin Heft, the Office of Policy & Management undersecretary. “We want to get the word out and say, ‘hey! We have a Stage 3 that’s on the horizon. That means a drought event is coming, so here are things you can do as a resident, business, state agency, to start preparing.'”

The RWA says customers can eliminate non-essential water use this summer by following these tips:

  • Check for any dripping faucets or running toilets. A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year. The average leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water per day. That’s over 6,000 gallons of water a month.
  • A bath typically uses up to 70 gallons of water, whereas a five-minute shower will use only 10-25 gallons, depending on the efficiency of your showerhead. So shower to save water.
  • Turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth can save as much as four gallons of water. If you brush your teeth in the morning and at night, that adds up to saving 200 gallons of water a month. The same is true when you wash your hands.
  • When cleaning dishes, scrape your dirty dishes into the trash and then put them into the dishwasher. The average dishwasher uses six gallons of water per cycle; more efficient dishwashers use four gallons per cycle. A running faucet uses about two gallons per minute.
  • Wash only full loads of clothes. Older top-loading machines use 40 gallons of water to wash a full load. Today’s newer standard models use 27 gallons, and more efficient Energy Star washers use 14 gallons per wash.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean patios, sidewalks, and driveways. Water flows from a hose at about six gallons of water a minute. If it takes 30 minutes to clean a patio or deck, using a broom saves 500 gallons of water.
  • Wash your car at a car wash. Washing your car at home can use between 40 and 140 gallons of water. Washing your car at a car wash where water is cleaned and recycled uses about 15 gallons of fresh water for each wash.
  • Use only non-potable water to water your lawn and gardens. Use a bucket to catch extra water when you run the water before a shower. If you take a bath, use the bath water to water trees, shrubs, and non-edible plants (not your vegetable or herb gardens).

“Just a few simple steps to conserve 10% of water use will help prolong available water supplies, reduce demand on the system and stress on local water resources as well as on the environment, and lower customer bills,” said Larry Bingaman, RWA president and CEO.

State officials also ask residents and businesses across the state to take the following measures to help minimize future drought impact:

  • Reduce automatic outdoor irrigation
  • Postpone the planting of any new lawns or vegetation
  • Minimize overall water use by fixing leaky plumbing and fixtures
  • Follow any additional conservation requests issued by water suppliers or municipalities

This hot, dry weather has impacted farms across the state. 

“Up until really three weeks ago, we’ve been getting pretty decent moisture,” explained John Lyman, executive vice president of Lyman Orchards. “We’re seeing now the effect of the dry weather.”

Lyman told News 8 that if these conditions continue, they will become more serious.

“Typically, the vegetables and small fruits, they’re shallower rooted, so they’ll be impacted sooner than the tree fruit that is deeper rooted,” Lyman said. “Farmers will tell you they prefer a dry year over a wet year. Last year was a really wet year and a lot of farms suffered because of that.”

Without a raindrop in sight on Thursday, families could leisurely pick their own fruits at Lyman Orchards.

“Lyman is a really good place to pick blueberries!” 9-year-old Linnea said. “I was picking blueberries with my mom and grandma!”

There are some benefits, however, of this dry weather. It has staved off diseases that impact fruit, and fruit, such as raspberries, are sweeter and juicer because of the dry weather. 

More information on the Interagency Drought Workgroup and the State Drought Plan is available here.