Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

RESERVOIRS LOW BUT COUNTY’S AQUIFER LEVELS STILL “NORMAL”

RESIDENTS-BUSINESSES STRONGLY URGED TO TURN OFF OUTSIDE LAWN SPRINKLERS

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Morris County residents and businesses are being urged by the Morris County Board of Freeholders to reduce unneccesary water use, especially outside lawn and landscaping sprinkling during the current “drought warning” period announced by the state last week.

Morris County Municipal Utilities Executive Director Glenn Schweizer told the freeholders yesterday that while county groundwater levels are near normal, streams are dry and reservoirs are at an average of 52 percent capacity, which is far below normal for this time of the year.

Schweizer, who briefed the freeholders at their work session in Morristown this morning, said the some very dry summer months combined with excessive heat resulted in the dropping water levels, and the state’s drought warning. Since March, the region has received about 65 percent of normal rainfall, he said.

Without adequate precipitation and conservation over the coming months, the state could move to mandatory water use restrictions.

“It’s time to stop watering lawns and let them go dormant,” said Schweizer. “We have to conserve water for humans and not worry about lawns and landscaping.”

State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin signed an Administrative Order on Friday designating the first drought warning in the state since 2001 due to ongoing precipitation deficits and deteriorating water-supply conditions, particularly storage levels in reservoirs.

MUA Executive Director Glenn Schweizer

MUA Executive Director Glenn Schweizer briefs the freeholders

Affected counties include Morris County, and Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties.

The goal of the drought warning is to preserve and balance available water supplies in an effort to avert more serious water shortages in the future. The warning also elevates the need for residents and businesses in impacted counties to reduce their water use.

This designation enables the DEP to more closely manage reservoir systems by directing water transfers among systems, controlling releases from reservoirs, and modifying the rate of flow in streams and rivers in order to balance ecological protection and needs of water suppliers.

“We’re asking our resident to join in the effort to conserve water by eliminating exessive use, especially when it comes to tasks like watering lawns, washings cars and hosing down driveways,” said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “Let’s work as a county community help to deal with this issue until we get back to normal precipitation rates.”

drought-mapThe Administrative Order signed by Commissioner Martin establishes a formal process for the DEP to work with water suppliers in affected regions to ensure no single water supplier or region faces a significant shortfall should dry weather and high customer demand continue.

The northern tier of the state, in particular, has been grappling with below-normal precipitation. In this area, precipitation deficits for the past 12 months are as much as 12.7 inches below normal. Major reservoir systems are below their normal levels for this time of year, and will likely need transfers of water through interconnected infrastructure to balance storage.

Morris, Sussex and Warren counties rely primarily on groundwater and have been included in the warning because groundwater in this area is rated as extremely dry while precipitation and stream flows are rated as severely dry.

Here are some tips to reduce water use:

  • At this time of year, it is appropriate to let your lawns go dormant.
  • Turn sprinkler systems off automatic timers.
  • Use a hose with a hand-held nozzle to water flowers and shrubs, or let them go dormant.
  • Use a broom to sweep the sidewalk, rather than a hose.
  • Wash vehicles with a bucket and do not run the hose more than necessary, or use a commercial car wash that recycles water.

For more state water supply status information and to view the Administrative Order, visit: www.njdrought.org

For more detailed information on water conservation technologies and interesting facts, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/watersupply/conserve.htm