Most of Maine is experiencing severe or moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions
The U.S. Drought Monitor is now reporting that all Maine counties, except Aroostook, are experiencing severe or moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions. The Department of Environmental Protection says water levels in many streams, rivers, lakes and ponds are at levels below the August median level and have been for a month. The state says these waterways cannot legally be used for irrigation without DEP approval. Bill Sheehan, Director for the Northern Region of the Department of Environmental Protection, says this is the third year in a row Maine has experienced drought conditions and farmers need to start thinking about long-term solutions due to climate change.
"What we're looking for is to have the conversation to start thinking about developing alternatives ahead of time ….for example, off site storage ponds that aren't connected to natural waterways....possibly wells," Sheehan says.
Sheehan says the process to apply for site specific approval has not been used often but when farmers do use it, the DEP can help them choose the best waterways to tap that won't stress or kill aquatic life, which is also illegal.