BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. — Too little rain is depleting Northern New Jersey reservoirs, prompting an official drought watch from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
The watch covers 12 counties, including Bergen and Passaic, and calls for voluntary conservation efforts to preserve existing supplies -- and prevent the need for mandatory restrictions.
In particular, agency officials are concerned with significant declines at United Water’s Oradell reservoirs, which provides water to roughly 800,000 customers.
When United Water is unable to meet the supply demands of its customers, it relies on other major suppliers to complement its service. This can put a strain on other interconnected water systems if inflated demands are left unchecked.
United Water implemented voluntary water restrictions at the end of August.
“We have been carefully tracking precipitation, stream flows, ground water and reservoir levels since the spring and over the course of the very dry summer,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said.
“While it is not uncommon to see reduced stream flows and ground water levels by the end of the summer season, we are beginning to observe signs of stress in our water supply indicators," he said, "and this warrants closer scrutiny and public cooperation.”
While plentiful rains in June replenished reservoirs, stream flow and ground water sources, very dry, warm weather in July and August resulted in high water usage that has continued into September. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is projecting above-average temperatures and dry weather to continue through October.
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