TRENTON, NJ – The  Department of Environmental Protection has issued a drought watch for New Jersey’s Northeast, Central, and Coastal North water supply regions.

Residents in the affected areas, including Union County, are urged to voluntarily conserve water. The rest of the state is asked to practice wise water use due to continued dry weather and above-average temperatures.

The drought watch is a result of rainfall deficits that have decreased reservoir, ground water and streamflow levels. The purpose of the watch 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 while water demand remains high.

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The three affected drought regions include all or parts of 12 counties including Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, 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,” said NJ DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “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.”

Some suggested water conservation tips 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.
  • Fix leaky faucets and pipes to save water at home
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and shaving.
  • Run washing machines and dishwashers only when full.

While measurable rainfall during the second week of Sept. provided some temporary relief, it did not appreciably improve the water supply situation in drought regions.Additionally, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is projecting above-average temperatures and dry weather to continue through October.

While plentiful rains in June replenished reservoirs, stream flow and ground water sources, very dry, warm weather in July and Aug. resulted in high water usage that has continued into Sept. 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 transfer of water between areas of New Jersey with relatively more water to those with less.

For more state water supply status information, click HERE. For more information on water conservation, click HERE.