September 04, 2022
Drought conditions in New Jersey have expanded to include more of South Jersey, according to the latest updates from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The latest data, released Sept. 1, reveals that much of South Jersey is either "Moderately Dry," or is experiencing "Moderate Drought" or "Severe Drought."
Parts of Atlantic and Cumberland counties, as well as Cape May County in its entirety, are facing "severe" drought for the first time since September 2010, the Press of Atlantic City reported. Droughts of this tier occur every 10 to 20 years on average, typically causing crop loss and water shortages. Twenty-nine percent of New Jersey is currently experiencing severe drought, which is the second-lowest tier.
Moderate drought, which is affecting parts of Atlantic, Burlington, Cumberland, Gloucestor and Salem counties, is the lowest drought tier and usually occurs every five to 10 years. It is being experienced by 67 percent of N.J.
South Jersey last experienced moderate drought in March and April, but it was alleviated by wet weather at the end of the spring.
New Jersey first issued a statewide drought watch on Aug. 9, due to abnormally dry weather in the preceding months and increased water demand impacting reservoirs and waterways that produce drinking water for residents. Lack of rain has put strains on stream and creek flow in the region, and has depleted available groundwater.
Currently, 6.9 million of 8.9 million New Jerseyans are in some stage of drought. The last widespread severe drought in the state was in 2002, when the state issued a drought emergency with mandatory restrictions on water use.
The state has not yet issued mandatory restrictions in this case, but the Department of Environmental Protection has supplied recommendations for water conservation, such as avoiding toys that require a constant stream of water, using drip irrigation rather than sprinklers, covering swimming pools when not in use, and using native plants that require less water.
In Pennsylvania, Philadelphia is one of 36 counties currently under a drought watch. Philadelphia, along with parts of Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties are "abnormally dry," according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The rest of Bucks County is experiencing moderate drought.