Despite Dry Winter And Spring, Groundwater Water Levels Adequate, Says UMass Hydro-Geologist
The relatively dry winter and warm spring temperatures are causing some worry among many, from farmers to forecasters, about dry crops and low drinking water supplies. But one expert says there's no cause for concern, at least for now. David Boutt is a hydro-geologist and professor of GeoSciences at UMass-Amherst. He says the virtual absence of winter snow and spring melt in the northeast is going to stress out people who manage surface water supplies like streams and reservoirs. But he says the levels of groundwater found deeper below the surface are normal.
“We're buffered by the abnormally wet year that we had last year.”
Boutt says despite the flooding and other problems, last year's heavier than average precipitation will be a boon this year for the many individual homeowners with private wells and communities in the region which rely on deep aquifers.
“If we continue to be as dry as we have been, I think what's going to happen is towns that rely on surface water for drinking water supply and, let's say, for irrigation and things like that, they're going to have to maybe rely a little bit more on groundwater this year.”
Boutt says dry periods appear to have become part of a 10-to-20 year cycle of extremes of wet years and drought. He says similar periods occurred in the 1960's, 80's and the 2,000’s. It's gotten so dry that in 1980, for example, U-Mass had to delay its fall school opening because of inadequate water supply. Boutt says it's too early to tell if this latest spell will be as severe. He says that could change depending on precipitation levels this summer and fall.