N.J. issues drought watch for two Jersey Shore counties

    Image: (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

    Image: (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

    The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection today announced a drought watch for Monmouth and Ocean counties due to below-normal precipitation.

    According to a state release, the new drought watch also includes Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem counties. A drought watch in Sussex and Warren counties that has been in effect since July.

    “The designation of a watch formally urges residents of these counties to voluntarily conserve water,” the release says. 

    A drought warning could ne issued for Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, and Union counties after the conclusion of a public hearing on Oct. 20 unless more abundant rainfall occurs. 

    “The recent rainfall we received, while spanning several days, was not enough to reverse downward trends in our water supplies due to extended dry weather patterns over most the year,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “It is very important for residents and businesses across New Jersey to voluntarily conserve water – especially regarding non-essential water use, such as watering lawns and landscaping – until we get sufficient rainfall to replenish supplies.”

    The purpose of the potential drought warning is to establish a formal process for the state to work with water suppliers to ensure no region in the state faces a significant shortfall. Major reservoir systems may require the management of interconnections to balance storage, the release said. 

    “The goal is to avert a drought emergency declaration, which would necessitate mandatory restrictions on water use by the public,” the release said. “The combined storage in reservoirs serving portions of Monmouth and Ocean counties are 16 percent below their normal storage of seven billion gallons.”

    The DEP offers the following tips to reduce water usage: 

    At this time, it is appropriate to just let your lawns go dormant. If you decided to water lawns, do so sparingly. Two times per week for 20 minutes 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, since much of this water will evaporate without helping the lawn.
    Use a broom to sweep the sidewalk, rather than a hose.
    To save water at home, fix leaky faucets and pipes. Consider replacing your toilet with a low-flow version; this can save around 11,000 gallons per year.
    Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and shaving.
    Run washing machines and dishwashers only when full.
    Upgrade your showerhead to low-flow versions; they can save some 7,700 gallons per year.
    Upgrade your faucets or install faucet aerators; this can save some 16,000 gallons per year.

    For more state water supply status information, visit here.

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