MORRIS COUNTY, NJ - The township is among many named by the state Wednesday in a "draught watch" alert due to a shortfall of rainfall.

The alert was issued by state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner (DEP) Bob Martin. It affects New Jersey’s Northeast, Central and Coastal North water supply regions, which includes all of Morris County.

Martin asked residents in those areas to voluntarily conserve water because of the lack of rainfall and higher than normal temperatures. The lack of rain has reduced reservoir depths, groundwater levels and stream flows, according to the DEP.

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"In times like these, all Morris County residents, businesses, schools, institutions and municipalities should reduce water consumption to ensure we have an adequate supply of potable water in coming weeks and months, until we start to get more precipitation, said Morris County Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo in a statement. “I will direct our county government team to find ways we can reduce water consumption, as well.’’

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

“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,” 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.”

The county issued some tips on how to save water:

  • 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.

The county noted that "measurable rainfall during the second week of September provided some temporary relief" but didn't significantly help the situation. It also said the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center believes the dry and warm weather will continue through October, said the county.

DEP said significant reservoir level declines have been observed in United Water New Jersey’s Oradell reservoir system in Bergen County. That system serves about 800,000 customers in Bergen and northern Hudson counties.

Also mentioned was the "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, stream flow and ground water sources, very dry, warm weather in July and August resulted in high water usage that has continued into September," said the county. "If the weather doesn't get cooler and wetter soon, the DEP might be forced to change the drought watch to a drought warning.

If that happens, the DEP can direct 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," said the county.