Drought conditions in Hartford County. Credit: Christine Stuart photo

Members of the Connecticut Interagency Drought Workgroup decided to keep New London and Windham counties at Stage 3 drought conditions while officials waited to see what the exact impact the latest round of heavy rain had on the state. 

Workgroup members wanted to stress that communities should continue their efforts to conserve water by restricting how often they water their lawns, powerwash their homes, or wash their cars. Right now, any efforts to conserve water are voluntary. 

“You are not leaving anyone with a hardship,” Bruce Wittchen, an environmental analyst, said. 

The workgroup will meet again on Oct. 6 for its next regular meeting, but members agreed to keep tabs on the situation and call another meeting if necessary. 

Drought conditions resulted in water companies calling on their customers to conserve water. Officials in East Lyme, Norwich and Putnam also asked residents to comply with restrictions in water use.

Last month, Gov. Ned Lamont declared Stage 3 drought conditions for New London and Windham Counties at the recommendation of the drought workgroup. The rest of Connecticut’s counties – Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven and Tolland – remain at Stage 2.

The Office of Policy and Management’s Eric Lindquist, who acted as chair for the workgroup’s meeting today, said it will take some time to review how much of an impact the recent rainfall had on groundwater levels and stream flows. 

“Conditions are rapidly changing,” Lindquist said, adding that it could take several days.

Drought.gov, in its weekly update of conditions, showed that as of today, 45.9 percent of Connecticut is at level 2, or facing severe drought conditions – mainly along the western part of the state and along the coastline. Only 0.3 percent of the state – a small portion of New London county, is at level 3, or extreme drought conditions. 

Drought map as of Sept. 8, 2022 Credit: Courtesy of the NOAA

Just last week, according to that website, the entire state was at level 2, with 2 percent at level 3. 

Workgroup members said data shows that northern Connecticut, Tolland and Windham counties, saw an impressive amount of rainfall in August, much more than other areas of the state. 

Simon Levesque, the state Department of Agriculture’s representative on the workgroup, said the recent storms at least provided some relief to the state’s farmers. 

“I wish it was spread out rather than all at once, but it is hard to complain after such a dry summer,” Levesque said.

So far this month, much of Connecticut saw at least 3 inches of rain, with some parts hitting between 4 to 6 inches. 

Another positive of the recent rainfall includes bringing any fire danger to a low level, officials said.