TRENTON, NJ – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex/Morris) that would require the state’s large water purveyor to develop and implement drought interconnection plans and systems, was released Thursday, by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. The bill would take effect immediately.

The “Asbury Park Press” recently reported that according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, all of Ocean County is now abnormally dry, along with 83 percent of the state, and more of North Jersey is in a moderate drought. The dry spell has also led to high fire danger in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

“While we are no way near the conditions faced in California, it is best that we prepare ahead so that we’re not left scrambling if and when drought conditions at home become severe,” said Mckeon. “New Jersey contains more than 500 water supply systems. A drought interconnection system would allow the state to respond effectively and reduce spending through more efficient use of existing networks and infrastructure.”

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Under the bill (A-2510), every water purveyor must prepare a plan, in conjunction with every proximate public water utility within the region wherein the water purveyor provides service, for the interconnection of their respective public water systems to facilitate the furnishing of water between systems and regions during a drought warning condition, or a state of water emergency as declared by the governor within specific areas of the state pursuant to law, to balance demand with available water supplies and to assure that sufficient water is available throughout the state during such conditions.

The plan must be prepared within 12 months of the bill’s effective date.

Under the bill, each drought interconnection plan would be subject to review and approval by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The drought interconnection system approved by the department would have to be implemented within five years of the bill’s effective date.