Drought Update: 12/14/2001

Statewide for 2001 rainfall has been below normal for 8 out of 11 months, and is only near average for December. This has resulted in dry conditions, which show up as reduced stream flows, lower lake levels, and declines in ground water levels. These conditions are also prevalent throughout the region.

Due to the continuing lack of precipitation, record low stream flows, declines in ground water levels, and low water levels in the Delaware River Basin reservoirs, State Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn issued a “drought warning” for New Jersey’s Northwest, Southwest, and Coastal South Drought Regions, on November 21, 2001. Previously, on October 30, 2001, Commissioner Shinn had issued a “drought watch” for all of New Jersey. The Delaware River Basin Commission had declared a “drought warning” on November 4, 2001.

The Delaware River Basin encompasses portions of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. New Jersey’s Northwest and Southwest Drought Regions lie within the Delaware River Basin. Its Coastal South Drought Region relies heavily on shallow wells for water supply and lacks the water supply infrastructure prevalent with the Northeast, Central and Coastal North Drought Regions, which remain in drought watch. Click on “Drought Regions” for additional information.

On December 1, 2001 the DRBC’s Drought Operating Plan was put into effect. On December 13, 2001 combined storage in the Delaware River Basin Reservoirs (Pepacton, Neversink, Cannonsville) was 41.8 percent below normal. Under the Drought Operating Plan, New Jersey’s allowable diversion through the D & R Canal has been reduced from 70 million gallons per day (mgd) to 65 mgd, and the allowable average New York City diversion has been reduced from 560 mgd to 520 mgd. The target flow in the Delaware River at Montague has been reduced from 1550 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 1350 cfs, and the target flow at Trenton has been reduced from 2700 cfs to 2500 cfs. Conservation releases from the major Delaware River Basin reservoirs have been reduced, and Merrill Creek Reservoir is releasing water to make up for consumptive use of water by power generation plants within the basin. The DRBC has scheduled an Emergency Hearing for December 18, 2001 at the Commission office in West Trenton.
Currently the State has no drought restrictions in place, but water conservation is strongly encouraged. Due to the random nature of rainfall the past 6 months localized areas may be experiencing some water supply problems. Please contact your local municipality or water company concerning any local water use restrictions that may be in place.

This message will be change periodically as conditions warrant. For additional information please refer to www.state.nj.us/dep/watersupply. The website also links to the U.S.G.S., New Jersey District web page for stream flow and ground water levels. For additional information on the Delaware River Basin Commission please refer to www.state.nj.us/drbc/.

Past Drought Updates