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State sets up $1m fund to help farms, businesses hit by drought

The latest map from the US Drought Monitor: The area shown in red is suffering an extreme drought, and the dark orange region is under a severe drought.US Drought Monitor

Governor Charlie Baker announced Thursday the creation of a loan fund to help family farms and small businesses get through what officials have said is the state’s worst drought in decades.

The fund, operated by Massachusetts Growth Capital Corp., will provide up to $1 million in “micro-loans” to affected businesses, Baker’s office said in a statement.

“Like the emergency loan fund we launched following record snowstorms, this Drought Emergency Loan Fund will provide affordable working capital to small businesses grappling with the aftermath of extreme weather,” Baker said in the statement.

The loan announcement came as officials in Worcester and some surrounding communities, citing worsening conditions, said they would begin implementing new water-use restrictions, including on giving tap water to diners in restaurants and on outdoor watering.


The emergency fund will provide loans between $5,000 and $10,000, according to Larry Andrews, president of Massachusetts Growth Capital, who said the corporation will rely on local partners to determine which businesses are in most need of the aid.

“Our team will provide prompt review of each application and work to help local farmers in need,” he said.

When the corporation set up a similar fund for businesses affected by record snowfall two winters ago, it gave out $350,000 in loans and had no delinquencies or losses, Andrews said.

The drought conditions across New England and the mid-Atlantic. The darker shades indicate more serious drought conditions, and the yellow areas indicate abnormally dry weather.US Drought Monitor

He said he hopes the drought fund will have similar success.

Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton said the fund would help get some farmers through the year.

“It’s not earth-shattering, but it can give this critical level of capital to folks to help them get by,” Beaton told the Globe. “That million dollars is probably going to go quick.”

The Drought Management Task Force met Thursday morning to assess how much the state’s dry conditions have worsened since its last meeting in August.


The task force recommended that Beaton change the drought ranking in the southeastern part of the state from the “watch” category to the “warning” category, and shift Cape Cod and the islands from “advisory” to “watch.”

Beaton said through a spokesman that a decision would come soon, possibly as early as Friday, on whether to upgrade the state’s response.

“This is one of the more significant droughts that we’ve had,” Beaton said. “It’s sort of an unprecedented time and we haven’t seen anything like this in decades.”

More than 170 towns and cities in the state have issued either voluntary or mandatory restrictions on water use, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

The city of Worcester issued a Stage 3 Drought Emergency on Thursday after the reservoir system that serves that city, as well as Holden, Paxton, and parts of West Boylston, was 55.1 percent full as of Sept. 1, according to the city’s website, with the average for that date being 81.7 percent full.

“The situation is getting very serious and we are now at the point of deciding which water uses have priority,” the city said on its website. “All outdoor water use is now banned. Water users are asked to find alternative water sources whenever possible.”

Residents in those communities were banned Thursday from all outdoor watering, except for using a watering can to water plants by hand, and from using water to wash cars, clean driveways, decks, and sidewalks, or filling swimming pools, the city said.


The low levels of water in the system, including the Quinapoxet and Pine Hill reservoirs, triggered the city’s Drought Contingency Management plan, resulting in the declaration, according to the website.

Town-by-town water use restrictions
Town Public Water Supplier First Restriction Implemented Restriction Level
Abington Abington/Rockland Joint Water Works 8/15/2016 1 Day or Less
Acton Water Supply District of Acton 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Adams Adams Fire District 8/15/2016 1 Day or Less
Amherst Amherst Water Dept. 7/25/2016 1 Day or Less
Andover Andover DPW 7/25/2016 Voluntary
Ashburnham Ashburnham Water Dept. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Ashland Howe Street Regional Water Plant 7/25/2016 1 Day or Less
Athol Athol Water Dept. 6/16/2016 Mandatory
Attleboro Attleboro Water Dept. 8/18/2016 1 Day or Less
Auburn Auburn Water District 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Avon Avon Water Dept. 6/1/2016 Mandatory
Ayer Ayer Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Barnstable Hyannis Water Dept. 6/21/2016 Mandatory
Barnstable Barnstable Fire District 8/17/2016 Voluntary
Barre Barre Water Dept. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Belchertown Belchertown Water District 6/9/2016 Voluntary
Bellingham Bellingham Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Billerica Billerica Water Works 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Blackstone Blackstone Water Dept. 6/1/2016 Mandatory
Bridgewater Bridgewater DPW 6/18/2016 1 Day or Less
East Bridgewater East Bridgewater DPW 6/17/2016 Mandatory
West Bridgewater West Bridgewater DPW 8/30/2016 Mandatory
Bourne North Sagamore Water District 6/15/2016 Voluntary
Bourne Buzzards Bay Water District 7/29/2016 Voluntary
Boylston Boylston Water District 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Braintree Tri-Town Water board 7/25/2016 1 Day or Less
Brockton Brockton Water Dept. 8/30/2016 1 Day or Less
Burlington Burlington Water Department 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Byfield Byfield Water District 5/18/2016 Mandatory
Canton Canton Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Chatham Chatham Water District 6/15/2016 Voluntary
Chelmsford Chelmsford Water District 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Cheshire Cheshire Water Dept. 7/19/2016 1 Day or Less
Cohasset Cohasset Water Dept. 7/1/2016 Mandatory
Cohasset Aquarion Water Co. 7/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Concord Concord Water Dept. 6/27/2016 1 Day or Less
Cotuit Cotuit Water Department 8/15/2016 Voluntary
North Chelmsford North Chelmsford Water District 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Danvers Danvers Water Division 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Dartmouth Dartmouth Water Division 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Dedham Dedham-Westwood Water District 6/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Devens MassDevelopment 5/16/2016 Mandatory
Douglas Douglas Water and Sewer 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Dover Colonial Water Co. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Duxbury Duxbury Water Dept. 6/28/2016 Mandatory
Easthampton Easthampton Water Dept. 7/7/2016 1 Day or Less
Easton Easton Water Division 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Essex Essex Water Department 7/11/2016 1 Day or Less
Fitchburg Fitchburg Water Dept. 5/19/2016 Mandatory
Foxborough Foxborough Water and Sewer Comm. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Franklin Franklin Water Dept. 6/6/2016 1 Day or Less
Gardner Gardner Water Dept. 5/30/2016 Mandatory
Georgetown Georgetown Water Dept. 5/18/2016 Mandatory
Gloucester Gloucester Water Dept. 8/22/2016 1 Day or Less
Grafton South Grafton Water District 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Grafton Grafton Water District 1/1/2016 Mandatory
Greenfield Greenfield DPW 8/19/2016 Voluntary
Groton West Groton Water Supply District 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Groton Groton Water Department 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Groveland Groveland Water and Sewer 8/17/2016 Mandatory
Hadley Hadley DPW Water Division 7/27/2016 Mandatory
Halifax Halifax Water Dept. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Hamilton Hamilton Water Dept. 6/8/2016 1 Day or Less
Hanover Hanover Water Dept. 8/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Hanson Hanson DPW 3/8/2016 1 Day or Less
Harwich Harwick Water Dept. 7/7/2016 Voluntary
Hatfield Hatfield Water Dept. 6/1/2016 Voluntary
Haverhill Haverhill Water Dept. 7/28/2016 Voluntary
Hingham Aquarion Water Co. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Holbrook Tri-Town Water board 7/25/2016 1 Day or Less
Holden Holden DPW 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Holliston Holliston Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Hopedale Hopedale Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Hopkinton Hopkinton Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Hudson Hudson Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Hull Aquarion Water Co. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Ipswich Ipswich Water Dept. 6/20/2016 1 Day or Less
Kingston Kingston Water Dept. 6/15/2016 Mandatory
Leicester Cherry Valley and Rochdale Water District 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Leicester Hillcrest Water District 8/1/2016 Mandatory
Lincoln Lincoln Water Dept. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Littleton Littleton Water Department 5/24/2016 Mandatory
Lunenburg Lunenburg Water District 5/24/2016 Mandatory
Lynn Lynn Water Dept. 8/24/2016 Voluntary
Lynnfield Lynnfield Center Water District 1/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Manchester Manchester Water Dept. 7/18/2016 1 Day or Less
Mansfield Mansfield Water Dept. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Marion Marion Water Division 6/15/2016 Mandatory
Marlborough Marlborough DPW Water Division 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Mattapoisett Mattapoisett Water Dept. 9/1/2016 Voluntary
Maynard Maynard Dept. of Public Works 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Medfield Medfield Water Dept. 6/2/2016 1 Day or Less
Medway Medway Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Merrimac Merrimac Water Depart. 7/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Middleborough Middleborough Water Dept. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Middleton Middleton Water Dept. 8/9/2016 1 Day or Less
Milford Milford Water Co. 5/18/2016 1 Day or Less
Millbury Aquarion Water Co. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Millis Millis Water Dept. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Natick Natick Water Division 6/22/2016 1 Day or Less
Needham Needham Water Dept. 5/2/2016 1 Day or Less
Newburyport Newburyport Water Works 7/21/2016 Voluntary
Norfolk Norfolk Dept. of Public Works 1/1/2016 1 Day or Less
N. Attleborough North Attleborough Water Division 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
North Reading North Reading DPW 6/13/2016 Mandatory
Northampton Northampton Water Dept. 6/21/2016 Mandatory
Northbridge Whitinsville Water Dist. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Norton Norton Water Department 1/1/2016 Mandatory
Norwell Norwell Water Dept. 6/6/2016 1 Day or Less
Oak Bluffs Oak Bluffs Water District 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Orange Orange Water Dept. 6/15/2016 Mandatory
Oxford Aquarion Water Co. 8/18/2016 Voluntary
Paxton Paxton Water Dept. 7/22/2016 Mandatory
Peabody Peabody Water Dept. 7/7/2016 Mandatory
Pepperell Pepperell Water Division 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Plainville Plainville Water Dept. 7/18/2016 Mandatory
Plymouth Plymouth Water Company 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Plymouth Plymouth DPW Water Division 7/12/2016 1 Day or Less
Plymouth Pinehills Water Co. 8/6/2016 Mandatory
Provincetown Provincetown Water Dept. 6/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Randolph Tri-Town Water board 7/25/2016 1 Day or Less
Raynham North Raynham Water District 6/6/2016 Mandatory
Raynham Raynham Center Water District 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Reading Reading Water Dept. 1/1/2016 Mandatory
Rockland Abington/Rockland Joint Water Works 8/15/2016 1 Day or Less
Rockport Rockport Water Dept. 7/14/2016 1 Day or Less
Rowley Rowley Water Department 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Rutland Rutland Water Dept. 6/6/2016 1 Day or Less
Salisbury Salisbury Water Dept. 6/6/2016 Mandatory
Scituate Scituate Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Seekonk Seekonk Water District 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Sharon Sharon Water Dept. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Shelburne Shelburne Falls Fire District 6/20/2016 Mandatory
Shirley Shirley Water District 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Shrewsbury Shrewsbury Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Southampton Southampton Water Dept. 6/27/2016 Voluntary
Southbridge Southbridge Water Dept. 8/19/2016 1 Day or Less
Southwick Southwick Water Dept. 6/15/2016 1 Day or Less
Spencer Spencer Water Dept. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Sterling Sterling Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Sturbridge Sturbridge Water Dept. 5/23/2016 Mandatory
Sudbury Sudbury Water District 5/18/2016 1 Day or Less
Sutton Wilkinsonville Water District 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Swansea Swansea Water District 5/20/2016 Mandatory
Taunton Taunton Water Dept. 5/21/2016 Mandatory
Templeton Templeton Light and Water 6/17/2016 Mandatory
Topsfield Topsfield Water Dept. 5/26/2016 1 Day or Less
Townsend Townsend Water Dept. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Upton Upton Water Dept. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Uxbridge Uxbridge Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Walpole Walpole Water Dept. 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Ware Ware Water Dept. 5/20/2016 Mandatory
Wareham Onset Fire and Water District 5/1/2016 Mandatory
Warren Warren Fire District 6/6/2016 Mandatory
Wayland Wayland Water Division 6/6/2016 1 Day or Less
Webster Webster DPW 8/16/2016 Mandatory
Wellesley Wellesley College 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Wellesley Wellesley DPW 8/1/2016 Voluntary
Wenham Wenham Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Westborough Westborough Dept. of Public Works 5/31/2016 1 Day or Less
Westfield Westfield Water Dept. 6/27/2016 Mandatory
Westford Westford Water Dept. 6/3/2016 1 Day or Less
Westminster Westminster DPW 8/9/2016 Voluntary
Westwood Dedham-Westwood Water District 6/1/2016 1 Day or Less
West Boylston West Boylston Water District 6/1/2016 Mandatory
West Brookfield West Brookfield Water Dept. 5/30/2016 1 Day or Less
West Newbury West Newbury Water Dept. 5/1/2016 1 Day or Less
West Springfield West Springfield DPW 8/15/2016 Mandatory
Weymouth Weymouth Water Dept. 7/18/2016 1 Day or Less
Whitman Whitman Water Dept. 8/30/2016 1 Day or Less
Williamstown Williamstown Water Dept. 7/1/2016 Mandatory
Wilmington Wilmington Water Dept. 1/1/2016 1 Day or Less
Winchendon Winchendon Water Dept. 8/24/2016 1 Day or Less
Woburn Woburn DPW 8/15/2016 Mandatory
Worcester Worcester DPW 1/11/2016 Mandatory
Wrentham Wrentham Water Division 1/1/2016 1 Day or Less
SOURCE: Mass. Energy and Environmental Affairs

Globe correspondent Reenat Sinay contributed to this report and material from the State House News Service was included. Dylan McGuinness can be reached at dylan.mcguinness@globe.com.