HARRINGTON PARK, N.J. (CBS 2) — The Garden State is turning into a drought state, as New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection says an increased demand for water has caused a serious drop in reservoir levels.

A drought watch has now been issued for five counties, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reports.

Many people living in the northeast may take water for granted, but the DEP says it’s in short supply at reservoirs. The state is asking residents in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris and Passaic Counties to voluntarily conserve, and to cut back on watering their lawns.

Ralph Fragola has already started the process with rock landscaping on his front lawn and special grass.

“It turns brown in the wintertime, and it really needs very little mowing and a lot less watering,” Fragola, of Harrington Park, said.

Oradell Reservoir is a perfect example of how serious the problem can be. The reservoir is at only half of its capacity, with two billion fewer gallons than it would have when it is full.

“It’s very possible we could enter into a stage where there would be restrictions imposed,” Rich Henning, of United Water, said. “But we’re a way from that right now. There is no reason to panic here.”

While the DEP says watering your lawn twice a week should be sufficient, Bergen County residents like Wayne Kelly worry that cutting back could end up costing him more money.

“I’m sitting on over an acre of land, so it’ll cost me a pretty penny to replace,” said Kelly, of Alpine. “So I definitely, I have to water it.”

Other DEP tips to save on water include the following: fix leaky faucets and pipes, turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth or shave, use the washing machine when it’s full, and sweep your sidewalk instead of using a hose.

You can also use a hose for your flowers and shrubs and limit washing your car at home.

All of those measures will help to prevent a water emergency down the line.

More From CBS New York

Download Weather App

Watch & Listen LIVE