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New Jersey residents asked to conserve water

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The water supply is “OK” in New Jersey. State officials want to make sure it stays that way, which is why they are asking residents to conserve water.

“We've had less precipitation than normal over the past month and past three months,” said Jeff Hoffman, state geologist in charge of the New Jersey Geological and Water Survey. “Some stream flows are down, groundwater levels are down, and some reservoir levels are at normal or below normal levels.”

The National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey tweeted that the region ended a hot stretch of weather on Monday.

According to Hoffman, the state experienced six straight days of temperatures in the 90s. The combination of past conditions and the lack of rain over the past three months is prompting concerns.

“We are concerned that if it continues to be dry and continues to be hot, the demands on the reservoirs and other water supplies may increase, in which case they would drop faster and perhaps get to levels where that would require some sort of drought action, either a drought watch or warning,” he cautions.

Hoffman adds that asking residents to voluntarily conserve water is a precautionary step to avoid stricter water usage measures. Ways to conserve water around the house can be found at dep.nj.gov/conserve-water.

At least one company has issued a mandatory water conservation notice to stretch its water supply. New Jersey American Water implemented an odd/even outdoor watering schedule for customers in Monmouth and Ocean counties until further notice. It has also asked customers in Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset, and Union counties to voluntarily follow a similar schedule.

Overall, the Garden State is experiencing what Hoffman has described as a normal minor dry spell, nowhere near the historic drought taking place in the western United States.

In the bigger picture of climate change, he said more dry spells interspersed with more intense rainstorms should be expected in the future, according to available research and climate models.

“On average, New Jersey may get the same amount of water on an annual basis,” Hoffman said. “It will just be in some more intense storms and some more dry periods.”