State environmental officials have formally issued a drought watch for several portion of New Jersey, including the northern half of Ocean County, known as the “coastal north” water region.
The purpose of the watch, according to the Department of Environmental Protection, 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.
“We have been carefully tracking precipitation, stream flows, ground water and reservoir levels since the spring and over the course of the very dry summer,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “While it is not uncommon to see reduced stream flows and ground water levels by the end of the summer season, we are beginning to observe signs of stress in our water supply indicators, and this warrants closer scrutiny and public cooperation.”
Residents are being asked “to be aware of the situation and use water more carefully and deliberatively, especially when it comes to lawn watering and other non-essential uses.”
While measurable rainfall during the second week of September provided some temporary relief, it did not appreciably improve the water supply situation in the three drought regions, officials said. Additionally, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is projecting above-average temperatures and dry weather to continue through October.
Water levels in several reservoirs – including the Manasquan Reservoir in Howell – are less than normal, Martin said.
If conditions remain warm and dry and water demands do not decrease, the DEP said it 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 the transfer of water between areas of New Jersey with relatively more water to those with less.
Tips for water conservation include:
- Do not over-water lawns and landscaping. Two times per week for 30 minutes in morning or late evening typically is sufficient. Use a hose with a hand-held nozzle to water flowers and shrubs.
- Avoid watering lawns and plants during the heat of the day, as this promotes evaporation and water waste.
- Use a broom to sweep the sidewalk, rather than 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.