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Concerns Rise As Water Levels Drop In Bergen County Reservoirs

ORADELL, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Reservoirs in New Jersey are getting dangerously low.

Falling water levels have raised concerns around the region. Now, people in part of North Jersey are being told to conserve or face restrictions.

Sun baked soil, parched rocks, geese walking where they would normally have to swim, and low water levels in reservoir tributaries illustrate the severity of New Jersey's water woes.

As WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported, cracked and parched earth at the Oradell Reservoir is usually under water, but not now.

"The New Jersey reservoirs that serve 800,000 people with drinking water everyday are down to 45 percent capacity," said United Water spokesman Steve Goudsmith.

United Water Urging Customers To Conserve Water Amid Very Dry Summer

Goudsmith said the problem has been made worse by heightened demand.

"We delivered an extremely high amount of water this August. In fact 400-million gallons more than we delivered last August for a total of 3.9-billion gallons," Goudsmith told CBS2's Elise Finch.

One thing that people can do is to stop watering their lawns. Lawn watering can account for 50 percent of a home's total water usage.

"I didn't know that it was a bad condition. It should be asked and it should be complied with," George Fenn said.

Residents in Bergen and Hudson counties were being asked to operate washing machines and dish washers only when they're completely full, to flush toilets only when necessary, and avoid long showers.

"We are all trying. We understand the problem and we don't want to get to the point where police are riding around to see if people are obeying the law," Margaret Miller said.

Representatives for the utility company said voluntary water conservation now, can help homeowners avoid mandatory water restrictions later.

Water levels worsened last month after New Jersey had the fifth driest August ever recorded.

Goudsmith added that the reservoir is supplied by a very small watershed, and rain is desperately needed in the area.


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