The state of New Hampshire is advising people who use private wells to conserve water because of dryer than average weather.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is warning that southern New Hampshire could be headed for drought after 60 days with 50 to 75% less precipitation than normal. Less water paired with more people staying at home also could cause water scarcity, the department said.

"Right now we have been quite dry, especially over the past two months," said Tom Hawley, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Gray Maine. 

The past two months have been particularly dry in Rockingham County and northeastern Massachusetts where rainfall is 4 to 6 inches below normal, Hawley explained.

The current dry weather along with the mild winter which resulted in early snow melting could be particularly worrisome for well owners, Hawley said. Wells often absorb lots of water in the spring when snow is melting, which helps keep them full through the summer.

"That exacerbates the situation," he said.

"It's possible next week some rainfall," Hawley said. "Southern New Hampshire, where things are the worst, will get the least amount of rain."

Current estimates show Rockingham County getting about a quarter-inch of rain, he said.

However, that might not be enough, "We need several inches of rainfall over a few days to get out of this."

It looks more likely that there will be more rainfall in a few weeks, he said. However, he would still conserve well water as recommended by DES.

"DES encourages those relying on private residential wells to begin conserving now," the department said in a statement. "Due to COVID-19, people are at home more often, which means a higher than usual demand on residential well supplies. To protect your well supply, it is recommended that outdoor water use be limited and water use be staggered, allowing the well time to recharge between demands."

To view the latest drought conditions and to find 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.

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