DEP warns of impacts to surface waters from drought and irrigation practices

August 4, 2022

For the third year in a row, a significant portion of Maine is experiencing abnormally dry conditions. Moderate drought conditions are impacting the southern, central, and western portions of the State. 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 cannot 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.

Additional Resources:

For additional information, contact: David R. Madore, Deputy Commissioner or

Bill Sheehan, Director, DEP Northern Maine Regional Office or

Rob Mohlar, Water Quality Engineer, (Western Maine Inquiries)