U.S. Water News Online
BANGOR, Maine -- Several months of normal precipitation
have failed to end Maine's prolonged drought, and officials are
pinning their hopes on a snowy winter followed by a rainy spring.
Although the drought has eased over the past year, experts at the
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are predicting that groundwater levels
in most of the state will be below normal once November's data is
Greg Stewart, USGS data section chief, said two of the agency's
seven real-time wells -- in Madison and Sanford -- show all-time
record lows for November. In addition, he said, four wells elsewhere
show groundwater in the below-normal range.
Bob Lent, USGS district chief in Augusta, said he would love to
see 2 or 3 feet of snow statewide with a slow, steady rain next
spring to melt it.
``There is nothing better for groundwater than a big snowpack and
a long mud season,'' he said.
``That is what we really need.'' agreed Tom Hawley, a hydrologist
for the National Weather Service. He said precipitation this fall was
better than a year ago, but the state still needs a few consecutive
months of above-normal precipitation.
Officials said last winter's snowpack was too small to recharge
groundwater levels. Typically, groundwater recharges during spring
runoff and autumn rains.
Hawley said precipitation this fall was better than a year ago,
but the state still needs a few consecutive months of above-normal
The statewide average precipitation this fall was 4.23 inches in
September compared with 3.7 inches last year; and 2.93 inches in
October compared with 1.81 inches a year ago.
Hawley said precipitation this month appeared to be above normal
in most areas, some receiving close to 4 inches of rain. Last year,
the November average was 3.96 inches.
Lent said until a few weeks ago, he was concerned the state would
see a repeat of last winter, when thousands of homes were left
``The rain we had in recent weeks helped avoid that situation,''
Lynette Miller of the Maine Emergency Management Agency said
16,000 to 17,000 families had been without water at some point since
June 2001, but the number of such calls has been dropping.
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