Despite the recent nor'easter that prompted flood warnings throughout the state, New Jersey is experiencing a rainfall deficit thanks to a dry winter and an equally dry start to the spring season. In fact, here in Morris County, rainfall amounts stand at 5.8 inches BELOW normal (for the past 90 days).
Some of the environmental threats posed by these severely dry conditions are obvious. Take, for example, the recent spate of brush fires that have raged out of control and damaged property in the Meadowlands and the Pine Barrens.
Perhaps less obvious are threats facing groundwater throughout the state. In a press release dated April 27, 2012, NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin remarked, "Most concerning is that our stream levels and groundwater supplies are extremely stressed." Private and municipal well owners whose aquifers are shallow and unconfined should consider implementing water austerity measures before the peak-water-usage months of summer arrive.
New Jersey's current situation stands a far cry from that of the late-summer and early-fall months of 2011 when an abundance of precipitation resulted in several destructive flooding events in our area. However, it is important to remember that heat and rainfall conditions can change rapidly along with overall weather patterns. A few days of dry and windy weather could set water levels back even further, while a period of fast, heavy rains could produce unexpected flooding.
If you want more information about recent weather patterns and extreme weather events in New Jersey, check out GSWA's YouTube Channel and the video "Why Is New Jersey's Weather Changing?" Recorded on April 10 at GSWA's offices in Morristown, this presentation from guest speaker Dr. Anthony Broccoli of the Rutgers University Center for Environmental Prediction systematically reviews significant weather events in New Jersey between December 2010 and April 2012.
If you are looking for some practical water conservation tips from NJDEP that you can voluntarily implement at your home, check out the following list of tips from NJDEP.
- Do not over-water lawns and landscaping. Watering two times per week for 20-30 minutes in early morning or early evening ensures that plants receive the most water while developing strong, healthy root systems.
- Make sure sprinklers and irrigation systems do not water during or immediately after a rain and are set to avoid wasting water on the street, driveway and sidewalk.
- Use a hose with a hand-held nozzle to water flowers and shrubs.
- Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and shaving.
- To save water in the home, fix leaky faucets and pipes.
- Run washing machines and dishwashers only when full.
- Install high-efficiency, water saving toilets, faucets and shower heads
- Use a broom to sweep the sidewalk, rather than a hose; Use mulch and native plants to conserve water in the garden
- Use a rain barrel to capture water from a downspout to use later for watering gardens and plants
- Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to water trees, gardens and flower beds.
More information about water conservation and water supply status in all of New Jersey's drought regions can be found at www.njdrought.org.