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New Jersey Drought Information
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NJ Drought Hotline: 1-800-4-ITS-DRY
Outside New Jersey Please Call: 1-609-633-0560
 
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Drought Update: 03/01/2002

Statewide for 2001 rainfall was below normal for 10 out of 12 months, and has averaged 13.7 inches below normal since June 2001. This has resulted in dry conditions, which show up as reduced stream flows, lower lake levels, and declines in ground water levels. These conditions are also prevalent throughout the region. Bergen, Hudson, and Passaic Counties declared water emergencies the week of February 18, 2002. Morris County declared an emergency on February 27, 2002. At this time New Jersey is making preparations for a declaration of emergency in the drought regions where it is warranted. Under an emergency restrictions on adjustable water uses can be imposed to reduce water usage.

A "drought watch" had been issued for all of New Jersey on October 30, 2001. A "drought warning" had been issued for New Jersey's Northwest, Southwest, and Coastal South Drought Regions on November 21, 2001. On December 4th and 5th the State held Drought Hearings to solicit input on the severity of the situation, its impact upon water supplies, and on available options that may be used to avert a water emergency. With the continued insufficiency of precipitation, and with reservoir levels in the Northeast and South Coastal Drought Regions being 37 % and 24 % below normal respectively, Acting Commissioner Bradley Campbell expanded New Jersey's Drought Warning on January 24, 2002 to include the Northeast and Coastal North Drought Regions. Since this time storage in the Northeast reservoirs has continue to decline, while storage in the Coastal North reservoirs has improved. The Central Drought Region remains in drought watch with reservoir levels only 7.5 % below normal.

New Jersey's Northeast, Central and Coastal North Drought Regions rely heavily upon reservoirs for water supply, but also utilize wells in various formations as does the Northwest region. The Coastal South Drought Region relies heavily on shallow wells for individual domestic water supply wells, and has wells in confined aquifers for many municipal water systems. The Southwestern Drought Region relies upon a mixture on surface water, shallow and confined wells. Click on "Drought Regions" for additional information.

New Jersey's Northwest and Southwest Drought Regions lie within the Delaware River Basin. The Delaware River Basin encompasses portions of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) declared a "drought warning" on November 4, 2001, and put its Drought Operating Plan into effect on December 1, 2001. On December 18, 2001 the DRBC declared a drought emergency. In a drought emergency under the Drought Operating Plan, New Jersey's allowable diversion through the D & R Canal has been reduced from 70 million gallons per day (mgd) to 65 mgd, and the allowable average New York City diversion has been reduced from 560 mgd to 520 mgd. The target flow in the Delaware River at Montague has been reduced from 1550 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 1350 cfs, and the target flow at Trenton has been reduced from 2700 cfs to 2500 cfs. Conservation releases from the major Delaware River Basin reservoirs have been reduced, and Merrill Creek Reservoir is releasing water to make up for consumptive use of water by power generation plants within the basin.

Currently the State has no drought restrictions in place, but water conservation is strongly encouraged. Bergen, Hudson, and Passaic Counties have mandatory water use restrictions in place. Due to the random nature of precipitation in the past 9 months localized areas may be experiencing some water supply problems. Please contact your local municipality or water company concerning any local water use restrictions that may be in place.

This message will be change periodically as conditions warrant. For additional information please refer to www.state.nj.us/dep/watersupply. The website also links to the U.S.G.S., New Jersey District web page for stream flow and ground water levels. For additional information on the Delaware River Basin Commission please refer to www.state.nj.us/drbc/.

Past Drought Updates

   
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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2003
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: January 9, 2003