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The lack of rain and snow in the last eight months probably will prompt New Hampshire to declare a drought, the state's top drought watcher said. It would be the first time the designation has been used.
Water Resources engineer Jim Gallagher, who is head of New Hampshire's Drought Control Team, said a drought emergency would give communities the authority to enact water-conservation restrictions. They might include banning or restricting things such as watering lawns, washing cars or filling swimming pools.
Gallagher said a drought emergency is a step up from a drought alert or drought warning.
''We're in that second level now, in a drought warning,'' Gallagher said. ''But we're getting to that point where I think we're at the emergency state.''
He said the drought team will review rainfall, stream flows, groundwater levels and reservoir levels.
A drought is officially defined as being at least 12 straight months of 75 percent or less than the average precipitation, but New Hampshire has been well below normal rainfall levels for eight months, which justifies the emergency declaration, Gallagher said.
''The long-term forecasts give no indication that things are going to improve,'' he said.