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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 8/10/99
99/98
CONTACT: Amy Collings or Sharon A. Southard
609-984-1795 OR 609-292-2994

DROUGHT COORDINATOR CLARIFIES WATER RESTRICTIONS, LAUDS PUBLIC COOPERATION

Deputy State Environmental Protection Commissioner Mark O. Smith, appointed as state drought coordinator by Commissioner Bob Shinn on Friday, today issued a list of frequently asked questions to help clarify the new water restrictions for residents and businesses, and released figures showing the measures are effective.

"We greatly appreciate all of the cooperation we're seeing on the part of residents, businesses, municipalities, water purveyors, local enforcement agencies and others involved in this emergency situation," said Smith. "With conservation, cooperation, good management practices – and some good soaking rains – we should be able to get through these difficult times."

The most recent reservoir statistics reflect a slight decrease in the rate of decline in water storage levels. All combined, the state’s major reservoirs are about 11.4 percent below normal today, compared to 9.9 percent below normal on August 2, and 10.7 percent below on August 5. These figures show the reservoir levels now are dropping at a slower rate – less than half a percent per day - than during the earlier part of the month.

In addition, preliminary reports from water companies also indicate residential water use is declining by several million gallons per day since Governor Whitman declared a drought emergency. For example, United Water Company has reported to DEP a significant drop in demand, with water use dropping from 143.5 million gallons a day (mgd) on Aug. 1, down to 98.2 mgd by Aug. 8.

"This kind of savings will enable us to hold water in upstream reservoirs that we might not have otherwise without this reduction in demand," Smith said.

Smith, who served as drought coordinator during the last emergency in 1995, said the drought hotline – 1-800-4-ITS-DRY - will continue to operate Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Comprehensive drought information for residents and businesses will soon be available from a new, easy to access DEP website: www.njdrought.org. DEP’s main website www.state.nj.us/dep also contains related information.

Smith stressed that the water restrictions apply to everyone in the state, including those with private wells. The underground aquifers that feed wells can be influenced by rainfall and stream flows, which in many cases are at or near record low levels.

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