As a period of hot and dry weather continues to smother New Jersey, the state this week asked businesses and residents to conserve water.
The request comes nearly a week after New Jersey American Water issued a mandatory odd/even watering notice for customers in Monmouth and Ocean counties. That marked an escalation from the company’s previous announcement, reported by NJBIZ, encouraging customers in those two counties as well as Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset and Union to conserve water.
“The recent extreme heat wave has prompted customers to increase their water usage significantly over the last week, and while we did previously request voluntary odd/even outdoor watering, we are continuing to see significant demands on the system that now require us to make this a mandatory order,” said Carmen Tierno, senior director of operations at the Camden-based utility, in a July 21 statement. “We are putting this restriction in place to support our ability to continue to provide water and fire protection services to our customers.”
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which is responsible for monitoring and protecting the state’s water supply, says its Division of Water Supply and Geoscience has been closely monitoring the drier than usual conditions this summer.
While the NJDEP says current water demands are being met and that the state’s water systems are capable of handling periods of low precipitation like this, it points out that local conditions can vary, which can lead to water use reductions like American Water imposed.
“Now is the time for New Jersey to be especially mindful of water usage and proactively moderate our consumption,” said Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn LaTourette. “Although our reservoirs and other indicators are healthy, persistent hot and dry weather coupled with the high water demands of summer can quickly impact water supply.”
NJDEP says that the reservoir levels are near long-term averages for this time of year and that groundwater supplies are near normal, but the central and southern portions of the state are drier.
“Simple steps, like reducing lawn and landscape watering, go a long way in preserving our water supplies and avoiding the necessity of significant restrictive measures,” LaTourette added.
For the most up-to-date information about the status of New Jersey’s water supplies and water conservation tips, residents and businesses can visit www.njdrought.org.