The Maine Drought Task Force met in Augusta Thursday to brief state agencies on the spread of the severe drought which now covers two-thirds of the state, according to the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

"There's not a lot of relief in sight for us," said MEMA director Bruce Fitzgerald. "While we're very glad we didn't get a hurricane this week, we sure could have used that rain."

Fitzgerald said the conditions are worse now than they were when the DTF last met in early September.

MEMA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Weather Service, and other state agencies discussed how to handle the drought. The USGS reported that nearly the entire state is in some sort of hydrologic drought, with the southern two-thirds of the state showing surface water levels at the lowest ten percent of all data gathered over a period of 60-100 years.

"The drought is expected to continue to expand," said Tom Hawley of the National Weather Service in Gray.

Roger Crouse, a representative from the Department of Health and Human Services Drinking Water Program advised against importing water from other sources into dry wells due to the fact that water may be contaminated posing a health risk and because the water will only remain in the well temporarily. The use of a temporary storage container is recommended instead. The container and the water should be clean.

Crouse said that the good news is that local water supplies are largely unaffected by the drought.

"Coastal supplies in southern Maine -- many of them are very resilient. I think we will see expansion of conservation measure requests if the drought continues," said Crouse.

Fitzgerald said a snowy winter is crucial to improving conditions for next year.

"If this continues through the winter and we don't get a lot of snow and we don't recharge those water levels, what we're looking at next year will be considerably worse."

Restrictions have been placed on water usage in some areas but all citizens are encouraged take steps to use water wisely, including:

· Take shorter showers

· Don’t run water while brushing teeth or shaving

· Fix leaky sinks and toilets

· Run full loads of laundry and dishes

· Avoid peeling vegetables under running water

· Discontinue outdoor watering, unless absolutely necessary

· When washing your car, wet it quickly, use a bucket to wash, then rinse quickly