TRENTON – With the Delaware River Basin Commission’s decision today to issue a drought warning for much of the Delaware River basin, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin again asked residents statewide to voluntarily reduce water use.
The DRBC drought warning for the lower river basin affects the entire western portion of New Jersey from Montague in the extreme northwestern corner of the state south to Cape May. It asks residents to voluntarily conserve water.
“The DRBC’s action complements and underscores the steps the Department of Environmental Protection has taken to conserve water resources in New Jersey because of a particularly hot and dry summer,” Martin said. “All of New Jersey remains under a drought watch which, for all intents and purposes, mirrors the commission’s action by calling on the public to voluntarily conserve water.”
The DRBC’s action is based on storage levels in two Pennsylvania reservoirs in the lower basin. The DRBC needs to keep sufficient supplies in these reservoirs to make releases to keep the salt line in the river in check. Salty water, if it progressed too far up river could affect drinking water intakes in Burlington County and Philadelphia.
The DRBC’s action will also result in a reduction of water diverted from the river to the New Jersey Water Supply Authority by way of the Delaware and Raritan Canal. The authority provides water to some two million people in northern New Jersey.
The DEP uses a wide range of hydrologic and meteorological indicators from across the state as it evaluates drought status. This status progresses from watch, to warning, to emergency as conditions worsen. An emergency would require mandatory restrictions on water use, such as a statewide ban on watering lawns.
The DEP is currently evaluating whether to declare a drought warning, which would be aimed at heightening public awareness of drought conditions and providing the DEP with more tools to manage water transfers between suppliers as conditions warrant. This evaluation includes a detailed assessment of reservoirs, streams and shallow ground water supplies that are both within the Delaware River basin and outside it.
The DEP’s Division of Water Supply has scheduled a public hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 29 to give the public an opportunity to discuss and learn about water supply conditions in the state. The hearing will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the first floor public hearing room at the DEP building, 401 East State Street, Trenton.
“The important thing for everyone to remember right now is that we are all in this together,” Martin said. “Everyone should be conserving water. Every little bit helps.”
Here are some suggested water conservation tips:
- Avoid lawn watering. Do not over-water lawns and landscaping. Two times per week for 30 minutes in morning or late evening typically is sufficient. Use a hose with a hand-held nozzle to water flowers and shrubs.
- To save water at home, fix leaky faucets and pipes.
- Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and shaving.
- Run washing machines and dishwashers only when full.
- Use a broom to sweep the sidewalk, rather than a hose.
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