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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DATE: February 29, 2012
CONTACT: Brandon Kernen, NHDES, (603) 271-0660
Prof. Matt Davis, UNH, (603) 862-4119
Prof. Mary Stampone, State Climatologist, UNH, (603) 862-3136

Revising New Hampshire's Drought Management Plan
Public Informational Meeting, March 12, in Concord

Concord, NH – The NH Department of Environmental Services, University of New Hampshire Earth Sciences Department and New Hampshire’s State Climatologist have partnered to update the state’s Drought Assessment and Response. A public meeting to present the work on the revised plan will be held March 12, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. at the Department of Environmental Services, 29 Hazen Drive, Concord, N.H.

The current Drought Management Plan was established by an interagency task force in 1990. Since 1990, the plan has been used numerous times to provide the public with information describing the severity and duration of drought conditions in five drought management areas. The plan has also been used to suggest response actions for various sectors impacted by a drought based on the location, severity and duration of the drought.

Revising New Hampshire’s Drought Management Plan was identified as a priority by stakeholders that reviewed and commented on New Hampshire Water Resources Primer in 2008. The 1990 Drought Management Plan does not reflect the current structure of departments within the state or government or include an assessment of bedrock aquifer conditions relative to the occurrence of drought. Approximately 50 percent of New Hampshire’s residents rely on wells constructed in the bedrock for their drinking water supply. Additionally, eighteen years of additional climate-environmental data is available since the Drought Management Plan was last updated.

Matt Davis, a professor with the UNH Earth Sciences program said, “The Drought Management Plan will be revised to include new metrics based on statistical analysis of existing hydrologic and climatic data sets collected in New Hampshire to improve the detection of the onset of drought and the measurement of the severity of its occurrence.” Mary Stampone, New Hampshire’s State Climatologist included, “The plan will identify the environmental-climate indicator data that need to be collected to assess normal and drought conditions and develop a process to ensure this data is reported to the appropriate federal, state, local authorities and various private entities and is appropriately tied into the National Drought Monitor program.”

“New Hampshire is perceived by some as a water-rich state because its average annual rainfall is over 40 inches,” noted Commissioner Tom Burack of the NH Department of Environmental Services. “However, New Hampshire can experience extended periods of limited precipitation ranging from relatively short-duration, single-season events to multi-year events where the amount of moisture present in the environment is insufficient to meet the needs of the public or the environment. The impacts to the environment, economy and human health and safety caused by droughts underscore a need to maintain a proactive approach to drought planning and management.”

Brandon Kernen, a hydrologist at the NH Department of Environmental Services stated, “It is important to understand that drought is a natural climatic condition that can occur in New Hampshire, and there are only a few actions that governmental agencies can take to alleviate the effects of drought. Being prepared by always using water efficiently and having drought contingency plans, insurance, financial resources and mutual aid agreements in effect can help cope with the effects of drought.”

The Department of Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), has statutory authority for carrying out all mitigation and response functions for any natural disaster. The update of the Drought Management Plan will be included as an Annex to New Hampshire’s Emergency Operation Plan, and is being partially funded with an Emergency Management Performance Grant from HSEM. It is anticipated that the plan will be updated by October of this year.

Please contact Brandon Kernen at brandon.kernen@des.nh.gov or 271-0660 if you are interested in attending this meeting.

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NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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