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Drought in Connecticut (Released: 9/7/95)

News tip for journalists

by Renue Sehgal, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- The drought in Connecticut has caused lawns to turn brown and trees to begin changing their leaf colors prematurely. But the dry spell has not adversely affected the water supply, according to experts at the University of Connecticut.

''It's dry, but as far as droughts go this isn't too serious,'' said David Miller, a climatologist and professor of natural resources management and engineering. ''It's a plant problem up to now. It's not a drinking water problem and odds are it won't stay this dry.''

Glenn Warner, an assistant professor of natural resources management and engineering, said residents with deep wells shouldn't have any problems. Those who get their water from shallow wells or from ponds or streams could be affected because of the decreased surface water and shallow water tables. A large percentage of Connecticut residents rely on deep water wells. But the ones feeling it the most are fish and wildlife, he said.

''Fish and wildlife are the first affected because they depend on surface water,'' he said. ''Some streams may have dried up, causing migration of some fish. That causes crowding and stress in other streams.''

Summer is a time when surface water is normally lower, Warner said.

''The reservoirs may be low, but they typically have lower levels during summer when the water use is high. People water their lawns, wash their cars and use more water than in the winter,'' he said.

Rain during the fall and snow in the winter usually replenish the water supply, Miller said. If the drought persists for five to six months through the winter and spring, then there will be cause to worry, he said.

This year's crops should be safe, especially because most growers have irrigation systems, Miller said. Corn production appears to be high on some soils in spite of the drought, while fields with sandy soils have been affected, Warner said.

''We had periodic rains until August so most crops had enough moisture during their growing season in the spring and early summer,'' Miller said. ''The trees are stressed, but its close enough to the end of the season that they won't be hurt too much.''

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