WBUR

Mild Winter Causing Drought Conditions Across Mass.

Jonathan Yeo, director of Water Supply Protection for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, at the Cordingly Dam in Newton Lower Falls. (Kathleen McNerney/WBUR)

Jonathan Yeo, director of Water Supply Protection for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, at the Cordingly Dam in Newton Lower Falls. (Kathleen McNerney/WBUR)

BOSTON — Many conservationists are concerned about the state’s rivers, most of which are at or below record lows.

On Friday, the state’s Water Management Task Force will consider whether to issue a drought advisory for parts of Massachusetts, particularly the southeast, east and central regions.

“In the last two years we’ve had flooding and now we’re seeing really dry conditions for this time of year,” said Jonathan Yeo, director of Water Supply Protection for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, as we looked across the Charles River at the Wellesley Dam in Newton Lower Falls.

Near the banks of the river the land was muddy where, Yeo said, it would usually be covered by water this time of the year.

“The concern is if we get any lower than this, it could impact various species,” Yeo said.

Low stream beds can increase water temperatures and cause stress on fish and other wildlife in the rivers, Yeo explained.

Nevertheless, the dry conditions could be reversed if the weather cooperates.

“We need a couple of good rainstorms and we don’t see any right away, but we probably could use an additional 5 inches of rain in next month — would be very helpful and probably can get out of this condition,” Yeo said. “If we don’t get it, we’re probably going to head into May and June in a very dry state. Towns will then be faced with restrictions and frustration for homeowners.”

The water levels are also being closely monitored by the Charles River Watershed Association. The organization’s director, Robert Zimmerman, said it’s a serious problem. He urges residents to conserve as much water as possible to help protect the wildlife.

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  • JM

    These alarmist articles only perpetuate the myth that we are short of water in New England.  Take a look around you – then take a trip to Denver and see what you find for water within a 50 mile radius.  The Quabbin reservoir, for example, has been at or above 100% capacity at some point in the last 5 out of 7 years.  This is all about mismanagement of resources and the lack of the general population to recognize the value of water resources.  One can also expect good years and bad years.

    • Mark

       JM, I disagree, this article is not overly alarmist.  It is no myth that it has been an unusually dry period for the Northeast.  And this is stressing ecosystems, particularly those that depend on rivers full of running water.

      True that our reservoirs are in good shape, but that is of little help to the diverse rivers and watersheds around the state.  Note that the article does not claim that our reservoirs are ‘short of water’.

      Your comparison to Denver is irrelevant.

      • JM

        You can’t ignore the normal cyclical behavior of rainfall patterns.  A few years ago we had 19″ of rain in the month of June – which many of us remember well.   The alarmists should just wait it out.  Nature doesn’t think in the short term.  We see examples of that in the aftermath of forest fires.  Perhaps there is a dry pattern in the northeast, but I have not used my lawn sprinklers for two full summers (I don’t like to use them at all), and my grass and weeds) were as green as everyone elses.

        There are many parts of the country that do not have the bounty of water that we have in New England.  I grant you that maybe it’s not in all the right places.  Like my old boss used to say: “patience young man”.

      • JM

        Follow Up:  Boston Globe Headline 4/18/12:  “Soaking Rain Due Sunday”.  Also, if you check the weather channel, it’s supposed to rain all next week.  Rest my case ding dong. 

  • JM

    Quoting:
    “We need a couple of good rainstorms and we don’t see any right away, but we probably could use an additional 5 inches of rain in next month — would be very helpful and probably can get out of this condition,” Yeo said.”

    This is very poor writing.  I’m no Dickens, but are the editors and writers really that ignorant?  Bob Oakes, please retire, then I can contribute to WBUR with a clear conscience.

    • old clown

      Well the sentence you cite is in quotes so I assumed Mr. Yeo was tripping all over his tongue when he tried to get the thought out. However I think your  assessment is probably more accurate; someone was typing too fast from notes too hastily scribbled and the reader is left with an unintelligible pile of sloppy journalism.

    • jlm

      It’s a quote. It’s not Bob Oakes’s job to edit what people say; it’s his job to report it.

  • JM

    Hey Mark, what do you think now? (6/4/12).  Just like Mark Twain said, all you have to do is wait (a minute, a day, maybe a few weeks).

    Rest my case.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.

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