Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee today has issued a statewide drought advisory, based on the recommendation of federal, state, and local experts that make up the state’s Drought Steering Committee. The Water Resources Board convenes the Drought Steering Committee when numerous water conditions indicate that the whole state may be entering an extended period of dry conditions, according to a press release from Governor McKee’s office.
Given the drought advisory, Governor McKee has also asked the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to monitor its watering activities, including reducing optional water usage and ensuring all piping systems are optimally maintained.
“While our water supply is designed to withstand drought, Rhode Islanders should be aware of the current conditions,” said Governor McKee. “As a precaution, I encourage residents and businesses to consider taking water conservation measures.”
Statewide recommendations are voluntary and include:
- Watering lawns no more than is needed. The average lawn needs only one inch of water weekly.
- Avoiding watering during the warmest part of the day—10 a.m. and 2 p.m.—when water is more likely to evaporate.
- Sweeping driveways and sidewalks rather than spraying them with a hose.
- Matching your washing machine and dishwasher settings to the appropriate load size so you do not use more water than required.
A statewide drought advisory is one of four progressive declarations that include advisory, watch, warning and emergency. To recommend a statewide drought advisory, three of the following four conditions must be met:
- Precipitation: two months below 65% of normal rainfall
- Ground Water: two out of three months below normal levels
- Stream Flow: three consecutive months below normal
- Palmer Drought Index: -2.0 to -2.99
At today’s meeting, it was determined that three indicators—ground water, stream flow and Palmer Drought Index—had been met. The last time the committee issued a statewide drought advisory was September 2020. That advisory was lifted in February 2021.
Water Resources Board Chair Susan Licardi discussed the outlook for the fourth indicator, precipitation, stating, “All regions were below 65% of normal rainfall in July, and the Climate Prediction Center calls for similar conditions in August.” She added that seasonal forecasts anticipate an improvement in drought conditions for September and October.
While conservation measures are not required statewide, individual water suppliers may have water restrictions in place. Residents are advised to check with their water supplier for further guidance. A list of major water suppliers to Rhode Island can be found on the Water Resources Board website at www.wrb.ri.gov/data_watersuppliers.html.