NJ Drought Conditions

Are your lawns and gardens drying up?

“Long-term drought continues, even as a wet spring and early summer have improved conditions in parts of the West. As of July 19, over 73% of the western U.S. is in drought.”[1]

NJ Drought MapWhile we may all be aware to some degree of the extent of the western water crisis, here in NJ it has also been abnormally dry in most of the state since June.  In fact, just last Tuesday, the Murphy Administration asked residents and businesses to conserve water as the state continues to experience a persistent period of hot and dry weather. 

To date, our hotter and drier conditions have not impacted our drinking water supply significantly but continuing hot and dry conditions could.  Residents and businesses are encouraged to take some precautionary steps to reduce water usage to ensure sufficient supplies throughout the summer.

“Now is the time for New Jersey to be especially mindful of water usage and proactively moderate our consumption,” said Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette. “Although our reservoirs and other indicators are healthy, persistent hot and dry weather coupled with the high water demands of summer can quickly impact water supply. Simple steps, like reducing lawn and landscape watering, go a long way in preserving our water supplies and avoiding the necessity of significant restrictive measures.”

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor information released on July 28th, our area of the state is in “abnormally dry” status.  [See New Jersey | U.S. Drought Monitor (unl.edu)]  And, while the drought outlook is not predicted to persist, month_drought.png (1199×926) (noaa.gov), and despite the small amount of recent precipitation, precautionary scale backs will help reduce the risks that the drought will affect us on a large scale.

Climate Change - Precipitation

The 2020 New Jersey Scientific Report on Climate Change predicts that droughts may occur more frequently due to the expected changes in precipitation patterns.  In fact, the report issues very contrary predictions for precipitation due to climate change, a sort of climate whiplash effect. 

"While average annual precipitation totals show a slight increase, climate change is expected to exacerbate the intensity of rainfall events and extend the duration of drier periods."[2]

Indeed, “drought and heatwave conditions are occurring more frequently across the United States and are having significant impacts on ecosystems and society.”[3] 

What you can do

Whether our “abnormally dry” conditions persist, or rainfall returns to alleviate the current precipitation deficit, we encourage all residents and businesses to do their part to conserve water.  Your actions do make a difference and can directly affect our local environment and waterways. 

In the Home


  • Install a low-flow showerhead - To save 7,665 gallons and $50 per year
  • Take 5-minute showers - To save 76,650 gallons and $498 per year
  • Install a low-flow toilet - To save 10,986 gallons and $70 per year
  • Turn off water while brushing teeth - To save 11,680 gallons and $75 per year
  • Fix constantly running toilets - To save 73,846 gallons and $480 per year

Laundry Room

  • Upgrade to a high efficiency washer - To save 14,585 gallons and $94 per year
  • Run washing machine only when full - To save 10,534 gallons and $68 per year


  • Run the dishwasher only when it’s full - To save 2,920 gallons and $19 per year
  • Install high-efficiency dishwasher - To save 1,314 gallons and $8 per year
  • Use a faucet aerator, low flow faucet - To save 15,622 gallons and $100 per year
  • Take care of household leaks - To save 10% on water bill

NJ Dep video – In the home

Outside the Home

When landscaping:

  • Water only when needed; in NJ, most landscapes need only 1 inch of water a week. This often comes from rainfall and dew.
  • Water flowers and landscaping with water harvested in a rain barrel connected to a downspout.
  • Use 30-50% less water with drip irrigation and micro-sprays compared to sprinklers.
  • Get an audit done on your irrigation system by someone who is a WaterSense partner.

In the Garden:

  • Use native plants that need less water.
  • Group plants together based on water needs.
  • Choose drought-tolerant grass varieties, such as fine-leaf fescues.
  • Mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and weeds.
  • Replace lawns with native plant beds, which require less water.
  • Water plants early morning or evening to reduce evaporation.
  • Water the root zone of plants instead of the foliage.
  • Water deeply and less frequently for a deeper, healthier root system.
  • Add organic matter to the soil to improve water and nutrient-holding.
  • Use water from dehumidifiers and/or air conditioners to water plants.

Outdoor Household Chores:

  • Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  • Raise your lawnmower blade to at least 3 inches to promote deeper grass roots which hold water better.
  • Don’t over fertilize lawns, which causes them to need more water to survive.
  • Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and steps, rather than using a hose.

 Outdoor Recreation:

  • Avoid recreational toys that require a constant stream of water.
  • If you have a pool, purchase a water-saving filter.
  • Cover your pool when not in use, to reduce evaporation rates.

NJDEP video – Outside the Home

The NJDEP also suggestions 10 Simple Steps to Save Water This Summer

[1] Home | Drought.gov

[2] https://www.nj.gov/dep/climatechange/docs/nj-scientific-report-2020.pdf page 40

[3] NJDEP | 2020 Scientific Report on Climate Change page 41.