DROUGHT CONTINUES, WATER
PRECIPITATION OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS KEY
While the snow and rain this week was some
help to current drought conditions, the New Jersey Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) is urging continued water
conservation as the amount of precipitation over the next
several weeks is key to replenishing streams and reservoirs
impacted by the long-term precipitation deficit.
"We are keeping a close eye on conditions
around the state. The Drought Management Task Force has
been meeting regularly and is in frequent contact with major
water suppliers for status updates. We ask the continued
cooperation of business and the public to use water wisely,
as groundwater and streamflows take longer to recover from
droughts than reservoirs," said DEP Commissioner Bob
Historically, the state receives greater
precipitation in January and February than the fall. This
is usually the time when reservoirs start to refill, although
recent winters have been drier than in the past, except
for January 1999.
The combined level of the four reservoir
systems in the northeast (United Water Co., Jersey City,
Newark and NJ District Water Supply Commission) is 44.5%
full today. Although this is below the historic average
for this time of year, since some years had large amounts
of precipitation, the levels are still in the normal range.
DEP issued a statewide drought watch on
October 30 and a drought warning for the Northwest, Southwest
and Coastal South regions on November 21 (map attached.)
A drought warning is still voluntary conservation but allows
the state the authority to order transfers of water among
water suppliers, or other modifications, if necessary. Public
hearings were held in December on the drought warning declaration.
New Jersey is divided into six drought
management regions. DEP has a comprehensive overview of
indicators including stream and groundwater monitoring stations
throughout the state, operated by the United States Geological
Survey's New Jersey District.
Rainfall last year was below normal for
10 out of 12 months, averaging about nine inches below average
(1895-2000.) Fall was exceptionally dry with October being
the driest October on record since 1895.
For more information, go to DEP's drought
website at NJDrought.org
or call 1-800-4-ITS-DRY (1-800-448-7379). The site also
links to the USGS web page and the Delaware River Basin