New Jersey has not seen much rain of late. But according to Bob Schaefer, Senior Director of Production at New Jersey American Water, there are currently no advisories because water reservoirs are at normal or above normal levels for this time of year.
New Jersey, says Schaefer, has various drought districts throughout the state and each one has different supplies and a different set of criteria used to assess drought.
“The water supply operation and planning process takes place throughout the year. So we’re diverting water out of our water resources continuously except if we’re not permitted to. So we’re able to monitor those year round and maintain our reservoir levels.”
The area covered by New Jersey American Water is expansive. It’s 64,000 customer base stretches from Essex County to Cape May County.
While there are no advisories right now, Schaefer warns there could be in the near future if mother nature doesn’t cooperate soon.
“If we don’t receive some precipitation in the relatively near future, we’ll be giving serious consideration to ramping up progressive messages to our customers to begin to conserve water all the way up to, if it became needed, mandatory restrictions perhaps issued by DEP.”
Schaefer defines “in the near future” as probably weeks, saying “we’d like to see some significant precipitation probably by Memorial Day or into the earlier part of June.”
He says the current situation is not new and is reminiscent of previous years.
“Just a few years ago, I think it was 2008, we found ourselves in a similar situation towards the end of the summer, and of course we had a declared drought in 2001 into 2002.”
If the situation were to reach drought-level conditions, Schaefer says the company would implement a progressive roll-in of restrictions beginning with indoor water use.
“It begins as … ‘let’s not run water in the sink when we don’t have to, let’s do full loads of laundry, to let’s start thinking more conservatively about outdoor use — don’t wash down our driveways, don’t wash cars … or odd-even lawn watering, for example.”