Well Owners Wrung Dry

It's been more than a week since New Jersey's governor imposed restrictions on watering lawns, washing cars and filling swimming pools, but none of that matters up in the mountains, where much harsher restrictions were imposed weeks ago by nature.

It has been a summer of anxiety for Laura Blank and her neighbors, reports CBS News Correspondent Jeffrey Kofman. They may live in a suburb of New York City, but they're on their own when it comes to water. For that they still rely on wells -- or at least they did until a month ago.

About half a million New Jersey homeowners rely on wells. Blank spent $11,000 deepening hers, but it's defiantly dry. Now Laura's hoping a high-pressure blast of water will open cracks in the bedrock.

Blank feels literally stuck between a rock and a hard, dry place. In her neighborhood water is liquid gold, and no one wastes a drop. Neighbor Nancy Scott explains,"When I fill the tub with water, I save that water, then I cart it outside and water the shrubs and the plants."

Down the street at the Cooke residence, Sue Cooke says they have only enough water for her husband to take a quick shower before work. So she and her kids spend their days at the local park. "It's horrible, horrible," she says. "I could have filled my well with all the crying I've done." With her taps running dry, it s like camping indoors. "We cook on foil pans. We eat on paper, plastic."

Meanwhile, Blank's neighbors are nervous, worried that blasting her well could steal water from theirs. She responds, "If you got an $11,000 bill, what would you do?" It'll be a few days before Blank will know if the process worked; if it doesn't, she'll have to drill a new well and sink deeper into debt.

"This is our Shangri-La up here," she says. "This is my home, and I don't want to lose it." For her and others living on desperation street, the rains can't come soon enough.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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