Chapter 21A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 2A the following section:-
Section 2B. (a)There shall be established within the office the drought management task force. The secretary and the director of the Massachusetts emergency management agency shall appoint to the task force officials from state agencies and professional organizations with responsibility for areas likely to be affected by drought conditions; representatives of agencies that provide data used to assess drought conditions or that have the ability to respond to drought conditions; and public health and safety and environmental professionals, and may invite officials from federal agencies to participate. The secretary and the director shall have joint responsibility for coordinating the task force. The task force shall meet at least quarterly, but it shall meet at least monthly during drought. The task force shall be staffed by a director appointed by the secretary.
(b) Within 6 months, the task force shall adopt, and update thereafter as needed, a revised drought management plan that addresses preparedness, and defines drought indices, action levels with appropriate levels of response, communication, and coordination based on drought severity. The drought management plan shall protect public health and safety and the environment. Some drought management plan actions may be triggered by particular drought indices and shall not require a majority of the indices at a drought level to be reached.
The task force shall assist in collecting and assessing technical information, facilitating coordination and communication among task force members, agencies and the public, and provide recommendations to the secretary, the secretary of public safety and security and the governor on the level of drought and responses thereto. The task force shall also make recommendations for the end of drought, or reduction of the drought level, focusing on the key drought indicators of precipitation, groundwater levels and streamflow.
(c) The secretary may order water conservation measures, including limits on nonessential outdoor water use, based on the severity of drought in drought regions to protect public health, safety or the environment. Such water conservation measures by the secretary shall apply uniformly to all water users within a drought region.
(d) Notwithstanding section 27C of chapter 29 of the General Laws or any ordinance, by-law, rule or regulation to the contrary, cities and towns shall enforce, water conservation restrictions issued by the secretary to the fullest extent permitted by law.
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