Water Conservation and Drought Management
The State of Connecticut, along with many partners, actively monitors drought conditions and provides resources and information on how to reduce stress on water supplies. During drought situations, water conservation and reducing our water use becomes important for the benefit of all water users.
Relevant Water Conservation and Drought Management Topics:
- Water Conservation Tips
- Drought Affects Both Wildlife and the Environment
- Drought-Tolerant Landscaping
- Drought Monitoring
- Water Diversion Permitting
Water conservation is the practice of using water efficiently to reduce unnecessary water usage. Whether we are experiencing a wet period or a drought, practicing water conservation ensures there is enough water in our state available for all. There are steps consumers can take around the home, and in the garden, to use water efficiently.
CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP):
- Tips for Conserving Water
- Water Conservation Guidance for Homeowners with Wells
- Water Saving Options
CT Department of Public Health (CT DPH):
United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA):
- WaterSense Main Page
- Simple Steps to Save Water
- Water Conservation Tips for Residents
- Soak Up the Rain
United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS):
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is tasked with balancing the different uses of water in Connecticut. Using our water resources wisely ensures that the people of Connecticut have access to water for drinking, gardening, irrigating, and even snowmaking. It is important that water is available in streams and lakes across the state for wildlife, aquatic vegetation, and fish. Aquatic recreation such as swimming, boating, and fishing rely on having plentiful water available in our environment. It is important that we balance all the uses of water.
Photo: CT DEEP - A mother bear and her two cubs cool off in a brook in Connecticut. When a drought occurs, wildlife may be strained as smaller streams go dry.
Xeriscaping is the practice of designing landscapes to reduce the need for irrigation and emphasizes the use of native plants. Native plants require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides because they are adapted to local environmental conditions. An additional advantage is that native plants benefit local wildlife species. Below are webpages that provide guidance on incorporating native plants into your next landscaping project:
- American Water Works Association: Connecticut Section – Xeriscaping Principles
- Connecticut Stormwater Manual – Appendix A: Plant List
- Bringing Wildlife to your Yard with Native Plants
- DEEP’s Native Plant Garden Project
- UConn Extension - Master Gardener Program: Ask a Gardener
A common example of xeriscaping in Connecticut is constructing a rain garden. Rain garden benefits are two-fold in that they help conserve water during both dry and wet periods as they capture runoff produced by storm events, while allowing excess runoff to infiltrate back into the groundwater system during dry periods.
Photos: Southwest Conservation District
Rain gardens come in all sizes ranging from a small plot next to a residential roof drain to a large area that captures runoff from a school parking lot. The rain garden construction shown in these images is located at the Green Acres Elementary School in North Haven, Connecticut and aims to capture runoff before it enters the Quinnipiac River. Projects like these can be funded by the Clean Water Act Section 319 grants, which are administered by the CT DEEP and the US EPA.
- To learn more about rain gardens, visit the CT Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (CT NEMO) Rain Garden resource page
- For more examples of rain gardens in Connecticut, check out the Rain Garden/Bioretention Implementation Projects
Drought monitoring occurs both at the local and national level to help make predictions and mitigate the effects that result from dry conditions. In Connecticut, the Interagency Drought Workgroup is responsible for evaluating local conditions and making recommendations to the Governor to declare drought on a county basis. Visit the Connecticut Drought Information Center for the most up to date information on drought in Connecticut.
Evaluating whether a county is in drought or not involves assessing information from multiple sources. Below are links to resources from organizations and programs that regularly conduct drought and water monitoring:
- U.S. Drought Monitor: Current Map
- National Drought Mitigation Center Toolkit
- NOAA: Drought Monitor
- NOAA: Climate Prediction Center – Drought Information
- USGS: Groundwater Current Conditions in Connecticut
DEEP is responsible for monitoring how industries, businesses, and water companies use water through the Consumptive Diversion Program. Water use monitoring details how water is used in Connecticut, which helps stakeholders plan for future public water supply needs, as well as ensuring aquatic life will have access to plentiful water.
The Fenton River in Mansfield, Connecticut has served as a case study for how responsible water management of rivers can restore balance to high water demands. The Fenton River has become a success story for balancing water use for both people and the environment.
Photos: CT DEEP – Top Image Fenton River (2005), Bottom Image Fenton River (2021)
To report flow issues for streams, please contact DEEP.StreamflowClass@ct.gov.
Content Last Updated March 8, 2023