Spruce Run: A grave reminder in Clinton of how summer’s drought still affects NJ
Now that the holidays have arrived in New Jersey, the thought of that intense drought this past summer might be an afterthought.
Ever since we entered the autumn season, New Jersey has once again been receiving some beneficial rain. What's more, those rainy days don't seem to be too far apart from one another anymore.
This, of course, has been a wonderful turn of events for our region. All over The Garden State lawns are becoming green once again, which is great to see after the beating they recently took due to the hot and dry conditions.
What's more, vegetation also seems to be springing back to life. It's not something you often see during the fall, but with the return of regular rainfall, many plants seem to be trying to make up for lost time before they go dormant.
For those reasons, it's easy to think that drought concerns in New Jersey are over. Unfortunately, that's not really the case in some parts of the state.
In fact, we never really recovered when it comes to the total amount of rainfall we lost over the summer, and that loss shows when it comes to our reservoirs.
On Nov. 11, I took a trip to Spruce Run Recreation Area in Clinton, NJ. It's a beautiful area with campsites, hiking trails, and more.
I still remember camping out for one of my birthdays at the campgrounds there during the spring when I was a teen.
The campsites are right off the reservoir making it a perfect place for those who love to fish during their stay. And yes, the hiking trails are also spectacular.
As mentioned above, New Jersey has been benefitting from more rainfall this fall which in turn has benefitted many plants and vegetation within our region. But the harsh reality hit me when I saw how low the Spruce Run Reservoir still was even though the drought seems to have ended in other parts of the state.
Of course, the drought isn't truly over yet. Many of our reservoirs are still way below the level they should be. The picture above highlights that well.
At first, you might think you're looking at a creek. But in reality, that water level should be all the way up to the tree lines.
Here's another look, but from a different angle. See that chain going across the access point? The water level shouldn't be much further from that.
Needless to say, it was a bit surprising to see. Like many others in the state, I don't live near a reservoir such as this one, so it's harder to appreciate the true impact of this summer's drought when you don't see the long-term damage in your backyard.
It might be raining for most of us again, but it hasn't been enough to allow us to fully recover. Yes, it's great that our vegetation has had a chance to bounce back, but we still have a ways to go to really get us back to where we were.
Here's another view of the reservoir, this time looking out from the main park area. The drop in water levels is much more apparent here.
See the shorelines? That should all be underwater. These photos unfortunately don't tell the full story, nor can they show the full impact.
To really appreciate the drop in water levels, you'd have to see this for yourself. We're not talking inches here, but rather feet. And we still need quite a bit more rain for the reservoir to get back to the levels it should be.
The photo below captures it a little better. The impact of this past summer is simply incredible.
Let's take a closer look at this one for a moment. First, you'll see a small ramp to the right along the shoreline.
Now look toward the left and see just how far that water line is from the ramp. That right there really puts it into perspective.
However, there is something else going on in these photos that's hard to see. It was lightly raining this particular morning, which is great news for places like Spruce Run Reservoir.
Hopefully, we continue to get some beneficial rain and these water levels continue to rise. If that doesn't happen and we enter another dry spell, we'll definitely be thrust into water restrictions at a much quicker rate.
Again, this was definitely a shock to see in person how bad our water situation has gotten, even though the drought seems to be behind us. Just because we're getting steadier rains now doesn't mean it's enough.
It's all the more reason why we still should cut back on watering lawns and plants and try to conserve wherever we can. The good news is winter's right around the corner, so the need to water outside will be minimal at best.
Hopefully, the colder season will be good for us and provide much more beneficial precipitation. Whether it be snow or rain, we really could use it to help us get back to normal.