Drought warning issued for Middlesex County

As a result of continued dry weather, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a water supply drought watch for most of northern New Jersey.

The DEP is urging residents in affected areas to voluntarily conserve water and for the rest of the state to practice wise water use due to continued dry weather that is impacting levels in reservoirs, lakes, rivers and streams as well as shallow ground water sources, according to a statement prepared by DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.

The drought watch affects the Northeast, Northwest and Central regions. These regions consist all of Bergen, Essex, Hunterdon, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties.

“We have been carefully monitoring precipitation, reservoir storage, surface water and ground water conditions,” Martin said. “The northern part of the state, which is very dependent on reservoirs, has experienced some of the driest conditions in the
state over the past several months. Conditions in other parts of the state, though not as severe, are showing signs of stress, and residents of these areas should also conserve water.

“We advocate for conservation of water at all times, but are urging residents to be especially
aware of the situation and use water more carefully, especially when it comes to lawn watering and other non-essential uses,” Martin said.

Precipitation deficits over the past 90 days are as much as 40 percent below average in many parts of northern New Jersey, while deficits in central New Jersey are more moderate, ranging between 10 and 25 percent, according to DEP. Precipitation has been above average only in the southernmost counties of Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem.

Some suggested water conservation tips include:

• Do not over-water lawns and landscaping. Two times per week for 30 minutes in the
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, 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.

• Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and shaving.

• Run washing machines and dishwashers only when full.

“Our hope is to avoid a water emergency and the need to impose mandatory restrictions by preserving supplies now until more rainfall provides relief and replenishes water reserves,”
Martin added. “When everyone pitches in, many millions of gallons of water could be saved each day.”

Reservoirs are the primary source of drinking water in the Northeast Region, with a total of 12 reservoirs and a combined capacity of 70.6 billion gallons. While combined reservoir storage throughout the region remains relatively good, some are showing declines that are steeper than long-term summertime averages due to lack of rainfall and increased demand, according to DEP.

For more information, visit njdrought.org.