Drought watch in effect for 12 NJ counties

The areas in yellow are currently under a drought watch, according to the NJDEP.
The areas in yellow are currently under a drought watch, according to the NJDEP.

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin has issued a drought watch for New Jersey’s Northeast, Central and Coastal North water-supply regions, urging residents in the affected areas to voluntarily conserve water, and for the rest of the state to practice wise water use due to continued dry weather and above-average temperatures. The drought watch is prompted by continued rainfall deficits that have decreased reservoir, groundwater and streamflow levels in the three regions.

The purpose of the watch is to raise public awareness, formally alert all water suppliers in the region of the situation, and to seek voluntary cooperation to preserve existing supplies in the affected regions, with water demand still high.

The three affected drought regions include all or parts of 12 counties, including Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset and Union.

Some suggested water conservation tips include:
· Do not overwater lawns and landscaping. Two times per week for 30 minutes in morning or late evening typically is sufficient. Use a hose with a handheld nozzle to water flowers and shrubs.
· Avoid watering lawns and plants during the heat of the day, which promotes evaporation and water waste.
· Use a broom to sweep the sidewalk, rather than using a hose.
· To save water at home, fix leaky faucets and pipes.
· Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and shaving.
· Run washing machines and dishwashers only when full.

United Water New Jersey serves approximately 800,000 customers in Bergen and northern Hudson counties. Although combined reservoir storage across Northeastern New Jersey is only marginally below normal for this time of year, the region is potentially vulnerable because of United Water New Jersey’s reliance on other major suppliers to complement its supply when demands are unusually high. If current conditions persist, other interconnected water systems could be adversely affected if inflated demands are left unchecked.

Other drinking water supply indicators are also showing signs of stress from the dry weather and high water demands, including stream flows and groundwater levels, as well as declining reservoir storage in the New Jersey Water Supply Authority’s Spruce Run and Manasquan Reservoirs in Hunterdon and Monmouth counties, respectively.

While plentiful rains in June replenished reservoirs, streamflow and groundwater sources, very dry, warm weather in July and August resulted in high water usage that has continued into September.

If conditions remain warm and dry and water demands do not decrease, DEP will consider further regulatory actions, such as the designation of a drought warning. Under a drought warning, the DEP may order water purveyors to develop alternative sources of water or transfer of water between areas of New Jersey with relatively more water to those with less.

For additional state water supply status information, visit: www.njdrought.org/status.html. For more information on water conservation, visit: www.njdrought. org/ideas.html.