“insufficient water to meet needs”

I’ve repeatedly leaned over the years on Kelly Redmond’s definition of drought: “insufficient water to meet needs”.

I was reminded of same today when a friend who lives in Massachusetts sent me a story about water shortages there:

With lawn watering season just getting underway, the state says there are 160 rivers and streams in the state that already suffer from low flows or water levels. Some, like parts of the Jones River in Kingston, run bone dry some summers.

And a new state Department of Fish & Game report shows river fish are disap pearing from many Massachusetts waterways – including the upper Charles and Blackstone rivers – in part because too much water is being taken from them. Brook trout, a local favorite, have all but disappeared from the parched upper Ipswich River. The stock of native bait fish such as common shiners have plummeted in the Blackstone.

Overwatering is to blame for much of the excess demand, local officials say.


  1. USGS type question for anyone who knows the answer.

    If water is taken from the Ipswich river to water lawns, where does the water eventually go and how long does it take to get there? I think that half of this water evaporates during lawn watering and half goes into the ground. Once it is in the air or ground, where does it go next. I assume that in both cases, the water eventually ends up in the sea but I do not know how long this takes or how many times, on its way to the sea, the water becomes rain again. One half remembered fact, a drop of rain that falls in the Amazon basin near the Andes becomes a rain drop 19 more times before it eventually ends up in the Atlantic ocean.

    So, where does the water on the lawns go?

  2. “Need” is a social construct. We don’t need lawns. (I can even argue that we don’t need drinking water, but that’s a turn off for many; let’s stick with lawns.)

    Hence, “drought” is a social construct. I’d prefer if you said “shortage” for demand>supply and “drought” for lower-than-average water supply.

  3. Pingback: Secretly Ironic » Blog Archive » Water Use In New England and New Mexico

  4. “We don’t need lawns.” But many people, including me, think that lawns add to the quality of life.

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