Gov. ends drought restrictions

By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

The drought is over. Just hours after most New Jersey residents wiped the slush of a recent storm off their windshields, Gov. James E. McGreevey announced that he would sign an executive order lifting the state’s emergency water restrictions.

"We recognized that the drought emergency of the past year was a sobering lesson for all of New Jersey, as well as for our neighboring states," McGreevey said, flanked by Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley Campbell, as well as several other state and local officials.

McGreevey made the announcement at the Metedeconk River Yacht Club in Brick Township, Ocean County, which struggled especially hard during the worst months of the summer’s drought. Brick is one of a handful of municipalities in the state that uses a river, the Metedeconk, for its primary water supply.

For a brief period of time, the Meted-econk’s tributary levels became so low that saltwater from Barnegat Bay overcame the river’s freshwater supply, leaving the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority (BTMUA) to resort to wells to fulfill its demands. The BTMUA supplies water to a 100,000-plus customer base, which includes Brick and neighboring communities.

However, Brick and the rest of the state were bailed out by a nor’easter and a succession of heavy rains and snowstorms.

"We managed through the crisis, we protected our communities and we substantially reduced our water use to get us through the driest 12-month record in recent memory," McGreevey said. "Thanks to prompt action by our administration and voluntary compliance by families and businesses all across the state, we minimized the impact on our households and our economies."

The governor cautioned state residents to continue to use discretion with their water use and also used the occasion to deliver harsh words against urban sprawl. The press conference was also held to announce that the Metedeconk was being considered for Category One designation, which would impose stringent limits on development and new discharges along its banks.

McGreevey called on residents to "join the battle … to stop the unmitigated overdevelopment and the urban sprawl that threatens to destroy both our water supplies and our quality of life. We have reached the breaking point. New Jersey must control the crisis, or the crisis will control us."

In March, McGreevey declared the state drought emergency after ending its driest six-month period since 1895. New Jersey coastal south and southwest drought regions, which are still experiencing low groundwater levels, will be placed under a drought warning.

More information on New Jersey’s current ground water levels and McGreevey’s administrative order can be found at the Web site