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The State of New Jersey Has Lifted Its Drought Watch, Which Had Been in Effect for Over Four Months

After more than four months, New Jersey finally lifted a statewide drought watch on Tuesday afternoon.

High temperatures over the spring and summer, along with a lack of rain, put a strain on the state’s water supply, prompting the monitor to appeal for voluntary water conservation measures from citizens and businesses.

In the state’s three-tiered drought advisory system, “watch” is the first stage. According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the designation is meant to raise awareness and inspire citizens of all 21 counties to voluntarily save water in an effort to avert more dire circumstances.

N.J. lifts drought watch after more than 4 months, citing better conditions

On Tuesday afternoon, state officials did not immediately respond to the news. According to a tweet from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, “since water supply conditions have improved, DEP is lifting the water supply drought designation that has been in effect since August 9, 2022.” Online, an agency representative also confirmed that New Jersey’s rainfall patterns have reverted to normal.

When the drought watch was issued in August, it was the first one in the Garden State since 2016. That got bumped up to a warning later. Even after 1–8 inches of rain fell across the state from the remnants of Tropical Storm Ian, which had originally impacted Florida as a hurricane, the barrier island remained intact.

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The state climatologist for New Jersey is based at Rutgers University, and his office reports that between three and six inches of rain fell across the state on average during the months of September, October, and November.

Should drought conditions persist, the state may raise the drought advisory to a drought warning or drought emergency and implement water use restrictions.

It’s quite typical of what’s happening in the northeast as a result of climate change. Ed Potosnak, director of the non-profit New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday that catastrophic weather events like hurricanes and droughts are becoming more common. We either have too much water or not enough water in New Jersey,” he continued.

There has been above-average or normal precipitation in all areas of the state during the past 90 days, as of the most recent data, which was collected on Monday and is available here for those interested in the current drought situation. Despite the dry conditions in many sections of New Jersey, DEP data from the 11th of December still suggested a watch was necessary.

The DEP has warned that climate change will increase the likelihood of severe droughts in the state. The state’s Scientific Report on Climate Change, due in 2020, predicts a continuing decline in summer rainfall.

Officials and environmental experts have long predicted that New Jersey will face more heavy rainfall occurrences.

In October, the administration of Governor Phil Murphy took no-urgency action to amend laws governing new building in the state’s most flood-prone inland areas. There will be a comment period for the proposal until February 3, 2023.

N.J. lifts drought watch after more than 4 months, citing better conditions

Potosnak added that even if the drought watch has been lifted, residents of New Jersey should still take steps to reduce their water consumption.

“It’s a universal substance, makes up 80% of our bodies, and simple things like taking shorter showers, making sure you’re not running water while brushing or shaving, and turning it on only when you need it makes a tremendous difference,” Potosnak said. You’re not just conserving money, but energy as well, because bringing clean water into your home requires electricity.

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Len Melisurgo and Brent Johnson, writers for NJ Advance Media, also helped with this story. The journalism here needs your help. Please consider joining NJ.com’s subscriber community now. Steven Rodas’s email address is srodas@njadvancemedia.com. You may find him on Twitter at @stevenrodasnj.

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Marissa Figgs
I write picture books, for middle grade, and young adults, some of which have won prizes, been filmed, or become bestsellers. I've ghostwritten for Pixar and developed teen work for Alloy Entertainment. I think heartfelt writing is the finest. It doesn't have to be personal, but it must be visceral. You want them riveted from the first word, page, or sentence, no matter how painful or unpleasant, and that's my expertise.
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