DEP AMENDS WATER RESTRICTIONS IN RESPONSE
TO ECONOMIC AND SAFETY CONCERNS
Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn today issued new
water use criteria that allow for watering of athletic
fields and offer options to nurseries, golf courses and other entities
with significant water needs.
administrative order was issued August 5. Todayís amendments
allow for the watering of football, soccer and other playing fields,
and encourage the use of non-potable water on golf courses, horse tracks
and other areas.
"As in every drought, at this early stage, the state
must try to avoid creating financial hardships for businesses, which
is why our focus has been on restricting non-essential, outdoor use,
primarily residential use," said Shinn. "These amendments
create opportunities for innovative use of wastewater, and we hope will
lead to permanent arrangements for recycling water."
Many schools, including universities with football stadiums
and youth athletic associations, were concerned that students playing
on unwatered fields could suffer injuries when falling on rock-hard
soils, and that cleats could rip apart the now brittle turf. These concerns
were reviewed by the Water Emergency Task Force, which is comprised
of representatives of all state agencies, and were forwarded to Shinn
by State Drought Coordinator Mark O. Smith.
The amendment allows athletic fields to be watered daily
between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. for no more than 45 minutes per area to be
watered. Grass outside of the essential playing area may not be watered.
"Since the drought emergency was declared, water
use has declined 20-30 percent. Given this substantial cutback, the
safety issues raised regarding these athletic fields, and the fact that,
unlike residential lawns, there is extensive public use of these fields,
we believe we can allow limited watering at this time," said Shinn.
"Should the situation change, and the usage levels rise significantly,
we will of course immediately revisit this issue."
"Wastewater is used routinely at several golf courses
in New Jersey and has proven to be an environmental and economic success
story," said Smith. "Given the stateís stringent standards
for wastewater production, the quality of the water is appropriate for
these uses. Re-use of the water reduces the demand on our water supplies
and reduces operational costs as well."
The amendment authorizes wastewater treatment plants that
are in compliance with their state discharge permits to make available
final treated effluent for non-potable use such as street sweeping,
horse tracks, golf courses, roadside plantings, nurseries and other
non-edible crops. The wastewater cannot be used if it is needed to maintain
adequate flow levels in the stream that normally receives the effluent,
or if it is needed as a water supply source by a downstream water company.
Watering with wastewater can only occur in areas and times
with limited public access, and signs must be posted informing the public
that wastewater is in use. Wastewater cannot be used on residential
lawns, edible crops or for any indoor use.
The amendment also allows residents to use drip tube devices,
but not soaker hoses, that are equipped with timers for watering trees,
plants, shrubs and gardens between midnight and 6 a.m.
Other new provisions include: