Where are the April showers? A lack of significant rainfall has prompted the state Department of Environmental Protection to encourage residents across New Jersey to take steps to conserve water, both inside and outside the home.

Recent rainfall, specifically the downpour last weekend, helped ease this year's precipitation deficits somewhat. Still, the effects of an unusually dry winter and spring have become more palpable.

"New Jersey is considered severely dry," said DEP Spokesman Bob Considine. "Our deficits range from 3.2 inches below normal in Cape May County to 5.8 inches below normal in Morris County."

While the state's major water supplies (reservoirs and deep aquifers) remain in good shape, New Jersey's stream levels and shallow groundwater supplies are severely stressed.

"We're asking people to moderate the water they use so our situation doesn't get any more stressed," explained Considine.

Water-saving tips may seem unimpressive, but Considine said when applied by everyone, "a greater good can be reached."

Suggested water-saving tips

  • Do not over-water lawns and landscaping. Watering two times per week for 20-30 minutes in early morning or early evening ensures that plants receive the most water while developing strong, healthy root systems. Make sure sprinklers and irrigation systems do not water during or immediately after a rain and are set to avoid wasting water on the street, driveway and sidewalk.
  • Use a hose with a hand-held nozzle to water flowers and shrubs.
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and shaving.
  • To save water in the home, fix leaky faucets and pipes.
  • Run washing machines and dishwashers only when full.
  • Install high-efficiency, water saving toilets, faucets and shower heads.
  • Use a broom to sweep the sidewalk, rather than a hose;
  • Use mulch and native plants to conserve water in the garden;
  • Use a rain barrel to capture water from a downspout to use later for watering gardens and plants;
  • Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to water trees, gardens and flower beds.

More information on water conservation and water supply status in all of New Jersey's drought regions can be found at www.njdrought.org.