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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 9/14/99 CONTACT: Peter Page or Loretta O'Donnell
609-292-3225 or 609-292-2994

DROUGHT EMERGENCY LIFTED IN SOUTH JERSEY

DEP RELAXES RESTRICTIONS FOR NORTH/CENTRAL JERSEY

Governor Christie Whitman today removed the Drought Emergency and mandatory restrictions for eight South Jersey counties while the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) relaxed restrictions for the rest of the state due to substantial rainfalls and effective water conservation and management measures.

September rains have sufficiently improved conditions in South Jersey to allow that area to return to Drought Warning status with voluntary conservation measures for the counties of Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean and Salem.

"We still need to conserve water as a precaution but conditions have substantially improved, especially in parts of South Jersey, thanks to several rainfalls this month and the conservation efforts of residents and businesses," Whitman said. "In some areas, local water use restrictions remain in effect and need to be obeyed."

The relaxed restrictions allow some exceptions, primarily for lawn watering and golf courses, for the 13 counties in North and Central New Jersey - Bergen, Essex, Hunterdon, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.

DEP Commissioner Bob Shinn commended the cooperative conservation efforts of water suppliers, businesses and residents, which have helped to enable the modifications.

"Today’s actions are the result of a combination of factors including the post Labor Day reduced demands for outdoor water use and cooler, seasonal temperatures, in addition to the replenishing rains and conservation efforts," Shinn said.

At the time the Governor declared a Drought Emergency on Aug. 5, many streamflows were at record lows following a long-term rain deficit and the exceptionally hot, dry July.

Northeastern New Jersey averaged nearly five inches in rainfall in August, which was about a half inch more than normal. This month, the northeastern counties have already received nearly two inches, which is almost half the normal rain for September.

DEP Deputy Commissioner Mark Smith, the state’s Drought Coordinator, noted, however, that reservoirs are still low and caution needs to be exercised. North Jersey reservoir levels have improved from their lowest 12 percent below normal average on Aug. 26 to 11 percent below normal today. Reservoir levels usually reach their lowest levels in October and November.

The combined average is now 60.6 percent full for the four major systems serving Northeastern New Jersey – United Water Co., Jersey City Water Dept., Newark Water Dept. and the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission.

"But because the weather is cooler, usage is down and rain is forecast, moderate relief from the restrictions is in order," Smith said.

Under the revised restrictions for northern New Jersey, newly sodded grass, either commercially or privately, may be watered every other day until Oct. 31 between 6 - 9 a.m. and 5 - 8 p.m. Watering shall not exceed 20 minutes per area on any one day. Newly seeded grass may be watered Wednesdays and Saturdays until Oct. 31 between 6-9 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. Watering shall not exceed 20 minutes per area on any one day. Watering is permitted following application of fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide, for three days from the date of application between 6 – 9 a.m. and between 5 – 8 p.m. with watering not to exceed 20 minutes per area on any one day.

Watering is permitted for the revegetation of land to prevent soil erosion following earth moving activities in a "critical area", as designated in a soil erosion control plan. Watering shall be limited to 30 days from the date of planting with no more than 20 minutes of water to be applied per area on any one day.

The watering of vegetation such as plants, trees, shrubs, vegetable and flower gardens, may now include low-pressure, perforated soaker hoses or a zoned sprinkler system. This is in addition to the previously allowed hand-held hose watering. Watering devices may operate between 6 – 8 a.m. and between 5 – 8 p.m. with watering not exceeding 20 minutes per area watered on any one day.

Golf courses, which posses a valid DEP Water Allocation Permit or Water Use Registration, may water newly seeded or sodded fairways between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. no longer than 20 minutes for an area on any one day. The golf courses may not exceed 35 percent of their permitted average monthly demand.

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