A statewide drought watch was issued Tuesday, as record heat and low rainfall have depleted reservoirs and ground water supplies.
Shawn LaTourette, the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, on Tuesday urged residents and businesses to conserve water wherever possible.
“Stream flow and ground water levels are falling below normal for most of the state and some reservoirs are showing steep rates of decline as hot and dry conditions continue,” LaTourette said.
Ground water supplies in North Warren have dropped to “watch” status, the first of three levels indicating drought measurement. The next two levels are “warning” and “Emergency.”
Most of Warren County has a deficit for more than 50 percent during the last 90, according to the National Weather Service. July was the sixth-hottest month on record. While there have been occasional localized downpours during the thunderstorms in the past few weeks, several periods of sustained rain are necessary to replenish ground water sources and reservoirs.
Virtually all water to businesses and residences in North Warren is supplied by private and community wells, which are impacted by ground water depletions. Wells can be subject to damage if water levels at the source drop.
Texas A&M University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences offers a measures users of wells can follow. Residents should consult professionals before making significant changes to their wells.
• Monitor the pump.
Water levels that are low or recover slowly will make the pump cycle on and off rapidly and burn out the motor. Low water levels can also cause submersible pumps to overheat and damage PVC drop-pipes. If the pump is rapidly cycling on and off, turn it off. You may need to reduce future pumping rate or lower the pump if the water level does not rise.
• If the pump sounds like it is sucking air, let it rest. When the water level drops, a well may begin to produce sand and air bubbles. Indications that the well may go dry include sand in the toilet tank and milky-looking tap water that clears after a short time.
• Depending on the depth of the well, you may be able to lower the pump. This procedure will require help from a licensed pump installer.
• Have the well water tested regularly during and after a drought. As the water level falls, air can enter the aquifer and change its chemistry. The concentrations of contaminants, such as total dissolved solids or salinity, may also change.
• Add a pumped-water storage tank if you have a low-yielding well. Adding a storage tank will help meet peak demand when your water needs exceed the pump’s capacity.
“While water conservation is always important, it becomes critical during prolonged dry and hot periods like New Jersey has been experiencing,” said LaTourette, the DEP commissioner. “If residents and businesses do all they can to reduce water demand, together we can ensure ample supplies in the coming weeks and months.”