Will We Have Enough Water?

Although climate scientists predict that precipitation will likely increase in New Jersey over time, that does not mean that we will necessarily have sufficient water supplies for all of the state’s residents if we don’t plan carefully and enact better water management and conservation programs.

The recent NJDEP report concluded that some areas of New Jersey already use tens of millions of gallons more water per day than the capacity of their watersheds to replenish this precious resource.

In three of the state’s 20 “watershed management areas,” humans are removing more water from streams and groundwater than is being replaced through precipitation.

And if water is pumped out at rates that are currently allowed under existing water permits, 12 of the 20 watershed areas would be in this deficit condition. The situation appears even more dire at the subwatershed level (see map to the right).

If we overtax our water supplies, businesses will suffer and governments will have to exact rationing measures to limit water use. Those whose homes, businesses and schools rely on wells may have to buy bottled water.

When there isn’t enough water, our streams, rivers and lakes dry up. This means all the critters who live in the water, as well as wildlife who drink from those streams, are harmed.

If farmers don’t have sufficient water for irrigation, their crops will fail in times of drought, resulting in higher costs to transport food for our grocery stores from areas not affected by drought.

We can forestall this scenario if we get smarter about our water use. Look for the EPA’s WaterSense logos when shopping for appliances and chose ones that are energy efficient. Conserve more, reuse more so there is enough water for all.