DROUGHT EMERGENCY LIFTED IN NORTH/CENTRAL JERSEY
Governor Christie Whitman today removed the drought emergency for the 13 counties in northern and central New Jersey. The region remains under a statewide Drought Warning status. Mandatory restrictions on water use that have been in effect since Aug. 5 are no longer in force, but residents and businesses are urged to continue voluntary water conservation.
The counties removed from mandatory restrictions today are: Bergen, Essex, Hunterdon, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.
"While reservoirs and stream flows have been restored, the storm did not fully replenish groundwater. Fall is normally the driest season, and people should continue to use water wisely as future rainfall is unknown," DEP Commissioner Bob Shinn said.
Shinn said that after the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Floyd, a few major water suppliers issued warnings to customers to conserve water. "The long-term drought conditions have significantly improved in North Jersey, but the water supply problems caused by Tropical Storm Floyd has made water conservation still a priority," Shinn said
The long-term rain deficit, which began in the summer of 1998, is still 7.8 inches below normal for the period from July 1, 1998 to Sept. 23, 1999.
On Sept. 14, the DEP upgraded the eight South Jersey counties to Drought Warning status with voluntary conservation measures for Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean and Salem. That action and the revision of restrictions for North Jersey last week were due to a combination of factors including this month’s previous rainfall, conservation efforts, the post Labor Day reduced demands for outdoor water use, and cooler temperatures.
Major North Jersey reservoir levels averaged 83.7 percent full today, which is 14.6 percent above normal. They had averaged 11 percent below normal prior to Tropical Storm Floyd. The four major systems serving Northeastern New Jersey are United Water Co., Jersey City Water Dept., Newark Water Dept. and the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission.
At the time the Governor declared a Drought Emergency on Aug. 5, many streamflows were at record lows following a long-term rain deficit and the exceptionally hot, dry July.
This month, the northeastern counties have already received an average of 10.5 inches. Normal September rainfall is 4.26 inches.