Drought Information

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General Questions

No, the State has not imposed mandatory restrictions at this time. You should, however, check with your water supplier, municipality and county to ensure that no restrictions have been instituted at those levels. Furthermore, everyone is asked to voluntarily conserve water to help avoid the potential of a serious water shortage.

If your drinking water is supplied by a municipal water department or municipal or county utilities authority, contact those agencies directly. If a private water company provides your water, they should be able to inform you of any restrictions that may apply. Finally, your city hall or county administration offices should be able to inform you about current restrictions.

Yes. Several New Jersey municipalities and counties have their own water use restrictions, and you must follow them. In the event the State does impose restrictions, you must follow whichever restrictions are more stringent.

Using water wisely can stretch existing supplies a long way and may avert the need for mandatory water use restrictions. With the approach of summer, watering your lawn once or twice per week for about 20 minutes (the equivalent of one inch of rain) is more than adequate to sustain your lawn and improve its drought resistance. If it rains, there is no need to water. Remember to check for local water use restrictions as well as guidance from your water supplier. Most often these restrictions allow for you to water on odd or even numbered days of the month, depending on your address.

To save water and money in the home, fix leaky faucets and pipes, and turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and shaving. Install water conserving faucets and showerheads. Run washing machines and dishwashers only when full. A complete list of water conservation tips appears elsewhere on the NJ Drought web page (www.njdrought.org).

Yes. Due to a substantial lack of precipitation since spring, it may take several significant storm events or several months of more typical rainfall to restore depleted stream flows and reservoir and ground water levels. Every effort to conserve water at this time stretches existing supplies and may avert a water emergency and the need to impose mandatory water use restrictions later.

A drought watch indicates that the Department is closely monitoring drought indicators, including precipitation, stream flows and reservoir and ground water levels, and water demands. Under a drought watch, the public should begin voluntarily cutting back on water usage.

A drought warning condition may be declared by the Commissioner of DEP as a non-emergency response to managing available water supplies. Under a designated drought warning, the DEP may, among other things, order water purveyors to develop alternative sources of water and to transfer water from areas with relatively more water to those with less. The aim of this stage of response to drought conditions is to avert a more serious water shortage that would necessitate declaration of a water emergency and the imposition of mandatory water use restrictions.

A water supply emergency can only be declared by the Governor. During a water emergency that is imposed due to drought conditions, a phased approach to restricting water consumption may be initiated. Phase I of water use restrictions typically targets non-essential, outdoor residential water use. And while some indirect economic impacts may occur, the first phases of water use restrictions seek to avoid curtailment of water use by the agriculture and business sectors. Those who are uniquely impacted by the restrictions can apply for a hardship exemption. While drought warning actions seek to increase or re-distribute available water supplies, drought emergency actions focus on reducing water demands. Phases II through IV water restrictions may be instituted as drought conditions worsen and the need for more drastic measures become essential to preserve public health and safety.

There are six drought regions: Northeast, Central, Northwest, Southwest, Coastal North and Coastal South. These regions were developed based upon hydro geologic conditions, watershed boundaries, municipal boundaries, and water supply characteristics. The reason municipal boundaries are used is because during a drought emergency, the primary enforcement mechanism for restrictions is municipal police forces. Therefore, the drought regions must incorporate municipal boundaries. A map of the drought regions and a list of municipalities by region can be found at www.njdrought.org.

There are several drought indicators that have been developed to deal with water supply and hydro geologic conditions particular to each drought region. The indicators are: precipitation, stream flow, ground water levels, New Jersey reservoir levels, and Delaware River Basin Commission reservoirs. Each indicator is weighted according to its relative importance to a particular region (e.g., New Jersey reservoirs are given substantial weight in the Northeast drought region where they are a significant source of water supply). The indicators are evaluated and given a mark: near/above normal, moderately dry, severely dry, or extremely dry. These are then evaluated to derive a technical recommendation for the status within each region - normal, watch, warning, or emergency.