Public Hearing Scheduled for Possible Drought Warning

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DEP Schedules October 20 Public Hearing for Possible Drought Warning for Much of New Jersey

As first reported by the Lake Hopatcong Foundation.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has scheduled an Oct. 20 public hearing in anticipation of designating a formal drought warning for 12 counties in the northeastern, central and northern coastal regions of New Jersey, a step that will enable the DEP to work with suppliers to balance storage among reservoir systems.

The hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Millburn Free Public Library, 200 Glen Avenue, Millburn, Essex County, is a required step prior to the DEP issuing formal drought warning measures for the following counties: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset and Union. Plus, continued a drought watch in Sussex and Warren counties that has been in effect since July. The designation of a watch formally urges residents of these counties to voluntarily conserve water.

Reservoir systems in the northeastern and northern coastal parts of the state have been grappling with below-normal precipitation for much of the year. Reservoir storage typically declines at this time of year due to heavy usage and normal summer weather patterns.

The purpose of the hearing will be to gather information from the general public, water suppliers and other stakeholders on the current status of water supplies and to discuss steps that can be taken to mitigate water use and manage those supplies, while enhancing public awareness.

These are the current conditions in sections of the state that rely on reservoirs:

  • The Northeast Combined Reservoir System – 12 reservoirs operated by four water suppliers serving the most densely populated region of the state – is 11 percent below its normal storage level of approximately 45 billion gallons for this time of year.
  • The New Jersey Water Supply Authority’s Raritan Basin reservoirs – serving densely populated central parts of the state – are 22 percent below their normal storage level of approximately 64 billion gallons for this time of year.
  • The combined storage in reservoirs serving portions of Monmouth and Ocean counties are 16 percent below their normal storage of seven billion gallons.

The DEP offers the following tips to reduce this use:

  • At this time, it is appropriate to just let your lawns go dormant. If you decided to water lawns, do so sparingly. Two times per week for 20 minutes is sufficient.
  • Use a hose with a hand-held nozzle to water flowers and shrubs.
  • Avoid watering lawns and plants during the heat of the day, since much of this water will evaporate without helping the lawn.
  • Use a broom to sweep the sidewalk, rather than a hose.
  • To save water at home, fix leaky faucets and pipes. Consider replacing your toilet with a low-flow version; this can save around 11,000 gallons per year.
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and shaving.
  • Run washing machines and dishwashers only when full.
  • Upgrade your showerhead to low-flow versions; they can save some 7,700 gallons per year.
  • Upgrade your faucets or install faucet aerators; this can save some 16,000 gallons per year.

For more state water supply status information, visit:

For more detailed information on water conservation technologies and interesting facts, visit:


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