The rain that hit Southern Maine over parts of Sunday and Monday was a small but much needed drop in the bucket toward easing the drought conditions our area is experiencing, according to James Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Over those days, both Wells and South Berwick received over an inch of rain, while rainfall totals tapered off heading north, he said.

“We need more of that,” Brown said of the rainfall. But it's not likely we'll see significant rainfall, at least in the next 10 days. The National Weather Service tends to forecast 10 days out, Brown said, and a 40 percent chance of rain in the forecast for Thursday into Friday “looks like the main event.”

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Southern Maine is still in an extreme drought, and York Water District Superintendent Don Neumann said August and September "are the driest it's been in a very long time." Neumann said August was the driest month in 25 years. “I’m concerned,” he said, adding that Chases Pond is down about a foot from where it was last year at this time, with one foot equaling 40 million gallons of water.

That concern led Neumann to activate an emergency connection in place with the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water District. The connection will allow the York Water Department to transfer between 500,000 to 1 million gallons of water a day for use by York customers. The transfer began last week and will continue for approximately 30 days. Neumann said, “this will allow Chases Pond to take a little break.”

This emergency interconnection came about following a drought in the early 2000s when the York Water District laid three miles of pipe on Route 1 to connect with the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water supply as necessary. The following year, the York Water Department also connected to the Kittery Water District.

The use of this interconnection now is coming at just the right time as the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water District’s demand has decreased significantly heading into the fall. With the water district having so many seasonal customers no longer using the water supply now that we’re out of the summer months, the district has more water available.

In addition to using the connection, the York Water District has asked fire departments to curtail fire hydrant use for training, and is postponing its fall flushing program, which usually occurs in late October. While some area towns, particularly in New Hampshire, have banned outside water use or asked residents to conserve water, Neumann said there is no expectation that there will be water restrictions placed on water ratepayers in York at this time.

We praise local water districts for taking these precautions and for being proactive and forward thinking in creating the emergency interconnections. Water ratepayers can take comfort in knowing that their districts are working together, taking precautions, and that in an emergency situation, such as we're in now, there is somewhere to turn.