Rest Of Northern N.J. Could Be Next; Oradell Reservoir Shrinks

ORADELL, N.J. (CBS 2) — If you live in the Garden State and your lawn is brown and dry, don’t pull out the sprinklers too quickly – lawn watering restrictions are now in effect in Bergen County.

Just when you’ll be permitted to water your lawn suddenly depends on which side of the street you live on, as an odd/even rule is now mandatory, reports CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

On Friday, house numbers ending in odd numbers were able to go with the flow, but for even-numbered houses, like Sal Monteleone’s home in Paramus, lawn-watering was forbidden.

He can shorten the grass, but he can’t make it any less dry.

“If you forget – it’s not something you should really forget,” Monteleone said. “They took the time to leave the message; we should follow through.”

Bhargavi Kola, with a house number of 205, was watering Friday night. She was also aware that on your permitted day, the correct hours to water are between 7 and 10 a.m. and between 7 and 10 p.m.

“We have a machine we can set only on the odd days, and set it for the month, and then you have to do it every month,” Kola, also of Paramus, said.

The last four and half months have brought us below average precipitation levels and that means mandatory water restrictions all over the place could be just days away.

“The rainfall that we’ve had has not been significant enough to bring up the levels, so we have to go to other measures like limiting or restricting outdoor water use,” said Sonja D. Clark of United Water.

The Oradell Reservoir supplies water to the majority of Hudson and Bergen counties. When the water levels here drop it’s a real cause for concern.

CBS 2 saw a beach in the distance that shouldn’t have been there. The reservoir is 10 feet below where it should be.

Saul Ratchick has lived in Westwood for 26 years and he said he’s rarely seen the reservoir this low.

“There’s hardly anything in it. It’s very distressing. Water restrictions have to come soon,” Ratchick said.

And when they do, is there any way to save your lawn? CBS 2 caught up with organic farmer Bruce Marek, who had a tip to maximize your watering time.

“If they could, irrigate more deeply once. Get the water down an inch or two instead of just a surface wet. With all that water together at once, even one time a week would be more beneficial,” Marek said.

A light sprinkling during the day doesn’t help much. The water evaporates quickly before bringing moisture to the roots. It’s the same story with our quick summer thunderstorms.

“Sometimes a downpour comes down so quickly and they’re not long lasting. We don’t actually get enough to make significant impact on the water levels,” Clark said.

The area would need several days of heavy rain to help — and that’s not in the immediate forecast.

Even though we had a lot of snow and rain in the early part of the year the extreme heat over the summer has lead to water shortages. Without significant rain a drought warning could be issued for all of northern New Jersey in the next few days.

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