REGION — Following lower than normal rainfall since March, the Northeast Region of Massachusetts, which includes Westford, has now entered a critical drought.
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Bethany Card announced the change from a significant drought to a critical drought on July 21. She cited deteriorating conditions and increased temperatures in many regions within the state.
According to National Weather Service data, precipitation remains six to eight inches behind normal rainfall for the region.
Officials open cooling stations over the weekend
The National Weather Service issued its advisory over much of the state on Tuesday morning. Temperatures in Lowell are expected to reach as high as 102 degrees on Sunday afternoon.
“Temperatures and heat indexes will be dangerously hot today and this week,” the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency wrote in a statement.
Officials are urging residents to stay hydrated and to check on children, seniors and pets.
Westford officials have announced a number of cooling stations available for residents during the extreme heat.
The J.V. Fletcher Library will remain open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday to provide air conditioning options to those in need.
Additionally, the Cameron Senior Center, in partnership with the Upper Merrimack Valley Medical Reserve Corps, will host a cooling center in the center from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Officials urge water conservation
Previously, the department required residents to minimize outdoor water usage between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
”Due to continued drought conditions, high demand, and temporary loss of the Country Road well source, the Westford Water Department is upgrading the Outdoor Water Use Restrictions to Stage III – no outdoor watering using sprinklers,” wrote the Water Department in a news release.
Under Stage III restrictions, all outdoor nonessential water use is prohibited. The department clarified that watering with a hand-held hose with automatic shut-off or watering can is allowed. Water of food gardens is also exempt from these restrictions.
Customers with an odd-numbered address may still only water on odd-numbered days from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. Customers with even-numbered addresses may only water on even-numbered days from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. Additionally, the filling of swimming pools is still prohibited.
The department will issue a $50 for the first offense, and $100 fines for subsequent offenses.
Restrictions took effect on Sunday, July 10 and will remain in effect until further notice.
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