DEP reports drought and irrigation related impacts to surface waters in parts of Maine

August 18, 2021

Contact: David Madore, Deputy Commissioner, (207) 287-5842, or Bill Sheehan, Director, DEP Northern Maine Regional Office, (207) 554-0783 or Rob Mohlar, Water Quality Engineer, (Western Maine Inquiries) (207) 592-1439

AUGUSTA, August 18, 2021 - A significant portion of Aroostook County and Western Maine is experiencing increasingly dry conditions with moderate drought conditions in the north and western portions of the county, and severe drought conditions in portions of Western Maine. As a result, water levels in many streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, and wetlands are at low levels. Stream and river flows are particularly low with flows well below the summer season August median level since early July. Unfortunately, low precipitation amounts and warmer temperatures that are anticipated to become more frequent in summer months due to climate change create favorable conditions for droughts.

Stream and river water levels below the August median level can not legally be used as a water source for irrigation without site specific DEP approval. Irrigation withdrawal during the current drought conditions will further lower stream and river levels and may result in dewatering of segments and fish kills that are a violation of law. Withdrawals from lakes, ponds, or other wetlands may similarly result in worsening environmental impacts. Conservation or other best practices that reduce the amount of water withdrawal are encouraged.

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