DARTMOUTH — Officials in the town of Dartmouth are warning residents that as Bristol County remains in a critical drought, they will have to restrict their water use or face increasing penalties.

The ongoing drought affecting much of Massachusetts was listed last week as "critical" by the state and "extreme" by the U.S. Drought Monitor — and despite a bit of recent rain, the dry conditions continue.

This means that town officials are now required to take immediate water conservation measures, including enforcing bans on non-essential water use, according to the state.

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Dartmouth's Select Board and Board of Public Works on Thursday issued a notice urging residents to start minimizing their water usage.

People and businesses within town lines are now required to stop all non-essential outdoor watering, according to the notice.

Filling swimming pools, and washing vehicles, boats, or hard surfaces like sidewalks, patios, siding, or driveways is also prohibited.


Residents and businesses that don't comply with the state requirements will find themselves facing increasing fines.

According to a document from the town's Board of Public Works, a first offense will earn a written warning, while the second offense earns a $50 fine.

After that, each additional offense will cost $50 more than the previous offense, so a third offense will result in a $100 fine, a fourth in a $150 fine and so on.

The town will also ban all installation of new sod, seeding, or landscaping.

"Even with recent rain, drought conditions are serious," the notice reads. "Dartmouth had only 0.20 inches of rain at the Chase Road treatment plant for the month of July."

A Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection letter to the town dated Aug. 12 notes that despite some rain, the drought continues, with most of the state actually getting drier in the past week.

"Streamflows have been severely impacted across the Commonwealth, and there are now dry stream beds and ponding visible in many locations," the letter notes.

"All efforts to minimize water usage now will give our local water supply systems and natural habitats the best opportunity to rebound quickly, and will ensure that essential needs, such as drinking water and fire protection, can be met while the drought continues."

Those with questions are asked to contact the Dartmouth Water Department at (508) 999-0742.

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