NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The small amounts of rain some areas of the state got earlier this year were not enough to help with Connecticut’s drought. More municipalities are now calling on residents to conserve water.

As of Thursday morning, the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that 13% of Connecticut, including parts of Windham and New London counties, is under an extreme drought. Seventy-five percent of the state is under a severe drought.

Parts of the state were under a severe drought for about a month in 2020. Since 2000, the longest duration of drought lasted 46 weeks from June 2016 to May 2017. The most intense period of that was November to May.

The State of Connecticut’s Interagency Drought Working Group met Thursday afternoon to review current drought conditions and make possible recommendations to the governor.

Governor Ned Lamont announced that he is declaring a Stage 3 drought level for New London and Windham counties. All other counties in the state will remain at Stage 2.

Stage 3 identifies a moderate drought event, potentially impacting water supplies, agriculture, or natural ecosystems. Stage 2 is a notification of an emerging drought and is intended as an awareness stage regarding the possibility of a developing drought.

The rain seen by some parts of Connecticut was little more than a tease, proving unhelpful in sustaining state reservoirs such as East Haven’s Lake Saltonstall.

Drought conditions have been impacting the state for a while now. When compared to images taken in July, the Pomperaug River in Southbury is noticeably drier in August. I

In their latest efforts to conserve water, local officials told home and business owners in towns like East Lyme to cut back on water use.

East Lyme residents are allowed to use automatic lawn sprinklers twice a week. Specific addresses determine when they are allowed operate their sprinklers.

The town utility manager said these water cutbacks are crucial.

“We had started a few weeks ago where we had looked for a voluntary reduction on irrigation. Now, we’re looking for a more aggressive phase where we’re looking to limit irrigation to just two days a week,” said Ben North, utility manager of East Lyme.

Most recently, Putnam officials also announced water cutbacks for their residents. The Town of Putnam Water Pollution Control Authority has issued a mandatory water ban beginning on Thursday, Aug. 18.

Per this ban, officials said that water is not allowed to be used for watering lawns and gardens, washing vehicles, or other nonessential uses. They also ask residents to conserve water when showering, dish and cloth washing, and other essential uses.

Officials said that the ban could last for at least a week.

If Connecticut seems in bad condition, the southwest is arguably worse off. The Colorado River is at historically low levels, and Arizona and Nevada have had to drastically cut back on water use. Unfortunately, nothing looks like it’s going to change, experts said.

To avoid further stressing water supplies and other impacts of drought, state and local governments, residents, and businesses are being asked to voluntarily take the following measures:

  • Reduce, to the extent possible, the watering of lawns, recreational and athletic fields, gardens, or other landscaped areas (if watering is essential, late evening hours are best)
  • Avoid burning in or near woodlands or brushlands
  • Report dry fire/irrigation ponds or private wells to municipal drought liaisons or regional emergency management liaisons
  • Postpone the planting of any new lawns or vegetation
  • Minimize overall water use by fixing leaky plumbing and fixtures
  • Take shorter showers
  • Run dishwashers and clothes washing machines with full loads
  • Shut off water while washing dishes, shaving, brushing teeth, and lathering up to wash hands, rather than running the water continuously
  • Avoid washing vehicles or power-washing homes and other buildings
  • Do not use water to clean sidewalks, driveways, and roads
  • Do not use public water to fill residential swimming pools