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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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RELEASE: 1/10/02

CONTACT: Loretta O'Donnell or Amy Collings
(609) 984-1795 or 292-2994


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 Shinn.

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 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 Commission.



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