The Murphy Administration is reminding residents and businesses to use water wisely entering the summer season. Conserving water is always a good practice. However, it is especially important now as the state continues to experience a period of persistent dry weather.
“We are asking the public to be especially mindful of water usage and proactively moderate consumption at this time,” said Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette.“Although the state is not declaring a water supply drought watch now, simple steps, such as reducing lawn and landscape watering, go a long way in preserving our water supplies and avoiding the necessity of restrictive measures in the future.”
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is responsible for monitoring and protecting the state’s water supply to ensure ample clean, safe water for drinking and other needs. DEP’s Division of Water Supply and Geoscience has been closely monitoring the drier than usual conditions which have emerged.
Regionally, conditions have been drier to the west and south of New Jersey, and on June 15, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection declared a statewide drought watch requesting that Pennsylvania residents and business voluntarily reduce nonessential water use.
Statewide, New Jersey has had less than half its normal rainfall over the last 30 days. Three of the last four months have had less than normal rainfall. As a consequence, New Jersey’s water supply drought indicators are starting to decline, but water supply drought conditions are not yet present. It is important that residents and businesses take proactive steps to help moderate their use of water to help ensure adequate supplies throughout the summer.
“The summer precipitation outlook, as is most often the case given the hit and miss showery nature of warm season rainfall, is uncertain,” said State Climatologist David Robinson. “Should rainfall remain below normal and hotter weather arrive, drought will likely emerge, and water resources become greatly stressed. However, should rainfall rise to normal levels in the weeks ahead, New Jersey should avoid drought and major water worries.”
Current water demands are being met and New Jersey’s water systems are capable of handling periods of low precipitation. Local conditions can vary, so it is normal for individual water systems or municipalities to periodically request or require that their customers reduce water use before the state does. When implementing local water use restrictions, those water systems and municipalities are encouraged to use 2-day per week irrigation restrictions, such as those outlined in Sustainable Jersey’s model ordinance.
“As the largest water and wastewater service provider in the state, we understand the importance of conserving our most precious resource, especially during the summer months,” said Mark McDonough, president of New Jersey American Water. “Incorporating wise water practices into your daily life throughout the season can help us avoid more stringent restrictions as temperatures continue to climb. As an added bonus, using less water will also result in a lower water bill.”
“In recent weeks water demand has rapidly shifted from indoor use to more outdoor use, especially watering of lawns and landscaping,” said Director of Ridgewood Water, Richard Calbi. “We are working to respond to those needs, however it is important that consumers do their part and use water wisely, particularly outdoors, to ensure that we are able to meet all of our customers’ needs.”
The DEP will continue to monitor water supplies very closely and advise the public, local governments, and water systems as appropriate. Up to date information can be found at www.njdrought.org. For more information on water conservation measures visit https://dep.nj.gov/conserve-water/
Other government and academic institutions also prepare drought-related indices and maps. One well-known example is the US Drought Monitor, which defines drought more broadly than DEP. These other resources may suggest drought or pre-drought conditions are present before actual water supplies are technically determined to be below normal by DEP’s Division of Water Supply and Geoscience.
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