In the heels of extremely dry spring and summer seasons and with drinking water reservoirs plummeting to approximately 50 percent capacity in North Jersey, the NJDEP updated the state’s drought status following a public hearing on October 21st with an executive order signed by Commissioner Bob Martin.  Drought warning were issues for 14 counties in northern, central and northern coastal New Jersey including: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.  In addition, the following counties are under drought watch: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem.  All but three counties — Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland — are under a formal drought designation.

The Administrative Order signed by Commissioner Martin establishes a formal process for the DEP to work with water suppliers in affected regions to ensure no single water supplier or region faces a significant shortfall should dry weather and high customer demand continue.

The goal of the drought warning is to preserve and balance available water supplies in an effort to avert more serious water shortages in the future. The warning also elevates the need for residents and businesses in impacted counties to reduce their water use.

The DEP offers the following tips to reduce water use:

  • At this time of year, it is appropriate to let your lawns go dormant.
  • Turn sprinkler systems off automatic timers.
  • Use a hose with a hand-held nozzle to water flowers and shrubs, or let them go dormant.
  • Use a broom to sweep the sidewalk, rather than a hose.
  • Wash vehicles with a bucket and do not run the hose more than necessary, or use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  • To save water at home, fix leaky faucets and pipes. Consider replacing your toilet with a low-flow version; this can save around 11,000 gallons per year.
  • Upgrade your showerhead to low-flow versions, which can save some 7,700 gallons per year.
  • Upgrade your faucets or install faucet aerators; this can save some 16,000 gallons per year.

For more state water supply status information and to view the Administrative Order, visit: www.njdrought.org

For more detailed information on water conservation technologies and interesting facts, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/watersupply/conserve.htm