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State officials say concern over drought remains high

The state’s map of drought conditions.
The state’s map of drought conditions.(Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs)

State officials say they remain extremely concerned about the dry conditions in Massachusetts, and they are renewing calls for residents to conserve water amid the region’s worst drought in decades.

“It is incredibly important that as the Commonwealth transitions from fall to the winter months that we all focus on indoor water conservation methods, now that the outdoor watering season has come to an end,” Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton said in a statement issued Friday.

Residents should reduce water usage, fix indoor leaks, and conduct water audits, the secretary said.

Beaton declared a drought watch throughout almost the entire state, save for Cape Cod and the Islands. In those regions, Beaton declared a less severe drought advisory. The declarations were unchanged from November.

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“Although many areas of the state experienced some precipitation in November, large portions of the state continue to experience a water deficit,” the office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said in a statement.

Greater Boston received 2.7 inches of precipitation in November, more than an inch below average for that time of the year, according to the National Weather Service.

A drought watch indicates areas that have endured more than six consecutive months with below-normal levels of precipitation, groundwater, stream flow, and large reservoirs.

The designation sets off more concerted government responses, like water restrictions and “more intensified monitoring and coordination” between government agencies, officials said.

A drought advisory indicates conditions that warrant closer tracking, officials said.

Beaton made the declaration based on a recommendation of the Drought Management Task Force, a group of federal, state, and local officials that has been meeting monthly since July to monitor conditions.

The officials on the task force said reservoir levels are recovering during a natural recharge period, but most remain below normal ranges.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which manages water for the city of Boston and 50 other municipalities in central and eastern Massachusetts, said levels in the Quabbin Reservoir dipped below normal in November, but not so much as to necessitate mandatory restrictions.

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The task force will meet again in January to monitor conditions.


Dylan McGuinness can be reached at dylan.mcguinness@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DylMcGuinness.