From State House News Service
ON THE AGENDA
- Water conservation ‘more important than ever,’ state environment chief says
- Racial disparities in marijuana arrests persist, per ACLU report
- Ciao Bella, Grove Street businesses hit with $30K in fines
- State has deer population in crosshairs
TOP OF THE HILL
Water conservation ‘more important than ever,’ state environmental chief says
After seven straight months of below-average rainfall, all outdoor water use should be banned in all parts of Massachusetts except for Berkshire County and Cape Cod and the Islands, the state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs announced last week.
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew A. Beaton of Shrewsbury elevated the western region of the state from a drought advisory to a drought watch on Friday, and elevated the Connecticut River Valley from a drought watch to a drought warning, following the recent recommendation of the state’s Drought Management Task Force.
“Water reservoirs, groundwater, streamflow, and soil moisture levels continue to decline, severely impacting the commonwealth’s riverine habitats and fisheries, agricultural sector, and elevating the risk of fire,” Beaton said in a statement. “Now more important than ever, we all must administer best water conservation practices to avoid additional stress on our drinking water sources and other water dependent habitats.”
With each heightened classification, the state ramps up its messaging around water conservation, a stronger push for water-use restrictions, and more intensified monitoring. Water suppliers in regions under a drought warning are urged ban all outdoor water use, and those under a drought watch should limit outdoor water use to handheld watering after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m., according to the task force.
The state has been under its own official drought declaration since July 1. More than 98 percent of the state is experiencing a “moderate” drought or worse, and the remaining bit of the state, near North Adams, is “abnormally dry,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
With Beaton’s latest drought declaration, the drought classifications now are:
- Central Mass. — Drought Warning
- Western Mass. — Drought Watch
- Connecticut River Valley — Drought Warning
- Northeast Mass. — Drought Warning
- Southeastern Mass. — Drought Warning
- Cape Cod and the Islands — Drought Watch
— Colin A. Young
Blacks 3 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, says report from Question 4-backing ACLU
Eight years after Massachusetts voted to decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, racial disparities in arrests for marijuana possession have continued, a report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts found, and they disproportionately affect African-Americans.