DEP EASES WATER USE RESTRICTIONS
Cautions Drought Emergency Still Exists
TRENTON 06/20 -- New Jersey Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell today amended the current drought restrictions,
easing water uses across the state. For the first time since
the drought emergency was declared in March, DEP is allowing
lawn watering in the northeast drought region, which includes
Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris and Passaic counties.
DEP is not lifting the statewide drought
emergency and many of the current water use restrictions
will remain throughout the summer. Voluntary water conservation
efforts continue to be vitally important both during this
ongoing drought and in the long-term management of our water
"Given the recent rainfall we've experienced,
we can now ease some of the water use restrictions in place
across the state to lighten the burden, particularly on
small business," said Commissioner Campbell. "We
still need everyone to help conserve this vital resource.
Just as we've seen our reservoir levels significantly rise
over a few months, history also has shown that they can
drop quickly, especially during the hot summer months,"
Highlights of the expanded water uses include:
- lawn watering statewide every other
day on an odd-even basis;
- watering of non-lawn vegetation statewide
on an odd-even basis;
- residential car washing on weekends
only using a sponge and bucket or automatic shut off hose;
- daily lawn watering allowed for new
sod or seed;
- washing of house using a bucket or automatic
shut off hose;
- increasing from 50 to 80 percent (of
the permit allowance) the amount of water golf courses
use, applying best management practices.
"I want to stress that the drought
emergency has not been lifted," Campbell cautioned.
"Groundwater and stream flow remain at low levels in
southern New Jersey where we continue to see record numbers
of wells going dry."
Some of the current restrictions that remain
in place include: serving of water in eating establishments
only upon request; no ornamental outdoor water use, including
fountains, waterfalls and reflecting pools with some exceptions;
suspension on decisions on applications for new or modified
water allocation permits; no washing of sidewalks and driveways
with some exceptions to protect public health; and installing
and using low flow shower heads on public showers.
Most meteorologists consider the current
drought weather pattern to have started in July 1998. Since
that time the state has declared drought emergencies on
three separate occasions - December 1998, August 1999, and
March 2002. In the past 48 months there have only been ten
months with rainfall levels greater than average. Periods
of extremely dry conditions have been followed by bouts
of rain only to return to dry conditions. In order to determine
if we have broken this cycle we have to carefully monitor
precipitation levels over the next few months.
While rainstorms during March, April and
May have significantly increased reservoir levels, these
three months of precipitation have not erased the rainfall
deficit that has accumulated for years of below average
rainfall levels. We are starting the summer with record
low shallow groundwater levels. Without a long period of
higher than normal rainfall, shallow groundwater levels
will not recharge.
All the current drought provisions are the same for all
six-drought regions and apply equally to water provided
through private wells or a public water supply system. In
all instances the amount of water individuals use for any
activity should be kept to a minimum, avoiding any water
Municipal, county and state law enforcement
agencies are responsible for enforcement of the ongoing
and amended water use restrictions. County or local governments
can still impose stricter water use limitations.
The fifth drought informational meeting
for the central drought region will be held on June 27 from
4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Cook College Student Center
in New Brunswick. The sixth drought informational meeting
for the coastal north drought region will be held on July
9 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Brookdale Community
College in Lincroft.
For more information on drought revisions
or to get a copy of the Administrative Order, go to www.njdrought.org.