This year, 2016, New England is experiencing abnormally dry conditions. Drought is a naturally occuring climate phenomenon, and citizens should be informed about and prepared to address potential impacts of low water supplies and other effects in a dry weather year.
What is happening in Vermont?
National Weather Service data from April to October shows that most of Vermont is experiencing a total rainfall deficit of about four to eight inches below average. In areas in the southern Connecticut River Valley, Grand Isle and Chittenden County, that deficit is as high as twelve inches. Low rainfall, combined with last years’ low snowpack and abnormally low spring runoff, has created ripe conditions for mild to moderate drought impacts around the state.
How is the State responding?
The Vermont Drought Task Force has convened to collaboratively monitor emerging drought issues in the State, and to coordinate and communicate assistance, when necessecary. The task force is comprised of representatives from several State and Federal agencies, including:
- Vermont Department of Health (VDH)
- Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR)
- Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (AAFM)
- Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS)
- National Weather Service (NWS)
- U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency (USDA-FSA)
- State Climatologist, University of Vermont
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Guidance for Managing Water Shortages or Outages
If you your drinking water well runs low or dry, report your issue to the State Drought Task Force using this online form.
For homes with private wells:
Options for Supplemental Well Drilling
Owners of single-family homes with a drinking water well are exempt from needing a permit to drill an alternative well or deepen their existing well. However, an exemption form must be filled out to notify the State of the activity. Below is a list of well drillers in Vermont that offer this service, as well exemption forms by well type.
- Exemption Form for Drilled Wells
- Exemption Form for Shallow Wells and Springs
- Current list of Vermont licensed well drillers
Commercial properties and multi-unit homes should contact the Drinking Water & Groundwater Protection Division at (802) 828-1535.
If you notice sediment or a change in the taste or color of your water, it may be a sign that your water supply is running low. If you are concerned about health issues, you may take the following precautions:
- Boil water that is used for drinking, cooking or food preparation
- Test your drinking water for bacteria. To order a drinking water test kit call 800-660-9997, or visit http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/ph_lab/water_test.aspx.
- If your water supply is very low or runs dry, but is quickly replenished after heavy rain, disinfect your system when the water returns.
For municipal water systems:
Call the Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division at (802) 828-1535.