Drought conditions

The U.S. Drought Monitor's most recent map of dry conditions in New Hampshire.

With southern New Hampshire facing heat advisories through Wednesday, hope seems to be on the horizon in the shape of showers and thunderstorms forecast for the next few days. But any rain relief may not be long-lasting.

State Climatologist Mary Stampone said any rainfall will be beneficial to soil and vegetation, though it’s unlikely to alleviate all the damage caused by the dry conditions.

“Southern NH needs upwards of 9 inches of rain to cover the precipitation deficits we have so far and there is a low chance of doing that in the next month,” she wrote in an email.

A result of lighter-than-normal snowpack and a lack of precipitation, drought and dry conditions have continued to spread across New Hampshire. Most of Hillsborough County, along with the northern and western edges of Cheshire County are now considered abnormally dry. Sullivan County is also experiencing abnormally dry conditions, as well as drought in the northern region.

But aid is available to state residents and some small businesses — even in areas that aren’t considered by the U.S. Drought Monitor to be experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

Private wells

New Hampshire residents who are of low income and whose wells are dry or seeing reduced flow can apply for state funds to remedy issues caused by the drought.

In October 2020, the N.H. Drinking Water and Groundwater Advisory Commission approved $1.5 million to aid low-income households that have been affected by the drought.

People can work with a licensed well contractor to apply for well mitigation assistance. The contractor must determine that the well owner is suffering from drought impact at some level. If the application is approved, the funds can provide financial assistance to improve or replace homeowners’ wells.

DES will facilitate the delivery of bottled water to applicants throughout the assessment and remediation process.

As of Tuesday, the N.H. Department of Environmental Services had processed 99 applications — including some from Cheshire, Hillsborough and Sullivan counties — and distributed more than $1 million for remediation since October, according to DES program assistant Paige Relf.

Relf said that most applications have been for dug wells, with cost estimates ranging from $4,000 for simple fixes to $28,000 for more complex situations. Depending on household income, approved applicants either pay 50 percent of the project cost or a $250 deductible, with state funding covering the rest.

The application for well-related drought assistance can be found at the N.H. Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund website.

Small businesses

Federal loans are available to small businesses across most of New Hampshire, including Cheshire, Hillsborough and Sullivan counties.

The loans are meant to provide aid to businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private nonprofits that have suffered financial losses as a direct result of the drought, according to a June 25 release from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Approval or denial is determined on a case-by-case basis, with the SBA considering factors including the size of the applicant.

The amount and terms are set by the SBA, but loans can be up to $2 million with a small-business rate of 3 percent and 2.75 percent for private nonprofits.

The capital loans are not intended to replace lost profits but rather cover the costs of things that could have been paid for had the drought not occurred, including payroll and bills.

Loan applications must be filed by July 26. The necessary forms can be downloaded from disasterloanassistance.sba.gov.

This article has been changed to clarify that the N.H. Department of Environmental Services will provide bottled water only to households applying for well remediation funding.

Molly Bolan can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436 or mbolan@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @BolanMolly.