- Associated Press - Saturday, October 29, 2016

TOPSHAM, Vt. (AP) - For much of the summer, Vermont escaped the drought that shriveled up crops and depleted some drinking water wells in parts of southern New England. Despite recent rain and snow, much of Vermont is now in a drought and the state is encouraging residents to conserve water when possible and report shortages.

All eyes are on what happens with the weather in the coming weeks and months.

“The soaking rains that we’ve been getting have been helpful, but we’re going to need to continue to see these type of soaking rains sort of spread out across the rest of the fall and into the winter,” state climatologist Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux said Friday.

The water needs a chance to infiltrate into the ground and recharge the aquifers, she added.

The state has set up a task force that has met with Dupigny-Giroux , meteorologists and the emergency management team. The state Agency of Agriculture has heard from about a half dozen farmers who are out of water and having to haul it for animals. The task force is encouraging residents who have low or dry drinking water wells to report them to a website so the state can monitor and map water supply shortages.

Low rainfall, combined with little snow last winter, has created a severe drought in parts of Chittenden, Addison, Rutland and Windsor counties while the southern end of the state and a northern section were in a moderate drought, according to a map released Thursday from the United States Drought Monitor. The Northeast Kingdom is having abnormally dry conditions as of Thursday.

Since January, precipitation has been below normal by 8 inches in Burlington, 14 inches in Springfield and 12 inches in Morrisville, according to the National Weather Service.

Areas of Massachusetts, western New York and parts of New Hampshire and Maine have been dealing with drought conditions since this summer.

In Vermont, the village of Jeffersonville is planning to haul in water next week as springs that feed the municipal water system continue to drop.

“The recent rain and snow hasn’t really turned things around for us. The spring yields are still declining just a little bit each day,” said Trevor Welch, the head water and wastewater operator for the village of 750 residents.

The village asked residents recently to conserve water.

“They’re all trying to help out,” he said.

A well drilling company in Morrisville has been busy in the last month responding to reports of wells running dry or springs not producing what they were. Nick Manosh, owner of N.A. Manosh Corporation, said his company is doing 25 to 30 percent more well-drilling this fall.

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