Dugan Tillman-Brown has experienced dry spells on his farm in North Stonington. This is the worst.
"Normally this is green. We haven’t had any rain, really to speak of, since late May," Tillman-Brown said, standing in front of a patch of brown grass. "These grasses are not adapted to this long duration drought.”
The effects of a hot and dry summer are being felt across parts of Connecticut. The US Drought Monitor released a map Thursday that places parts of Eastern and Northern Connecticut in an "extreme drought" category.
The Connecticut Interagency Drought Work Group has now placed five of Connecticut's counties under a stage two drought level, warning of an emerging drought. New London county is the most recent county to experience stage two drought conditions. Hartford, Windham, Tolland and Litchfield counties have been at stage two since late August, according to the work group.
"It is basically an advisory level," said Office of Policy & Management Undersecretary Martin Heft, who leads the drought work group.
Under the advisory the work group is asking residents to voluntarily cut back on water use to minimize future drought impact. If you live in the five counties affected, the state is asking residents to:
- Reduce outdoor irrigation and other non-essential outdoor uses of water
- Postpone the planting of any new lawns or vegetation (if new plantings cannot be postponed, consider drought-tolerant species)
- Minimize overall water use by fixing leaky plumbing and fixtures
- Follow conservation requests or mandates issued by public water systems, municipalities, or state agencies
If the state moves any county to stage three, more stringent conservation efforts will go into effect. The work group meets again in October.
With no big rain event in sight, Tillman-Brown said that the challenges will remain. The drought conditions have made a tough situation more difficult. Tillman-Brown said that hay prices have increased and it has become hard to sell the animals because of limited meat processing capacity during the pandemic.
“Is it bad? No. We can deal with anything. You just have to learn. Is it easy? It has made a hard job and a hard profession a lot harder," said Tillman-Brown.