barnegat towship water restrictions again




Date: 040502


By Jarrett Renshaw, Staff Writer, (609) 978-2015
Press of Atlantic City, May 1, 2004

Barnegat Township - The state has tightened the valve on water
allotments; the township needs more water to catch up with its
expansion. And township residents who want to wash their cars and
water their lawns are stuck in the middle.

Barnegat Township is unique among southern Ocean County mainland
towns. It is the only one that self-imposes water restrictions
annually on its residents. (Long Beach Island towns do so in the

The water restrictions - which do not apply to private well owners -
began April 15 and run through Sept. 30. Residents with even number
addresses may irrigate their lawns on even number days and residents
with odd number addresses may irrigate their lawns on odd number days.

"There is almost no way we can come underneath our allotment with the
amount of water residents use when the weather gets nice and outdoor
use is in demand," Barnegat water and sewer manager Edward Woolf said.

The township has exceeded its water allotment in July over the past
several years, Woolf said, but never received a fine.

Mayor Virginia Novrit called the water restrictions a cautionary and
necessary measure.

The restrictions appear to be the product of the state's tightening
of the belt on water allotments and the township not recognizing the
need for more water as it continued to expand.

Since Edward Woolf was named the head of the water and sewer
department in 1999, nearly 2000 additional homes came online with the
township's water system.

There are nearly 400 more homes being constructed, approved by the
Planning Board or being reviewed by the Planning Board.

Also, there will eventually be 1,000 more homes at the Ocean Acres

But it wasn't until May of last year that the township sought to
build an additional well along with increasing its monthly allotment
of water.

The township is allotted 65 million gallons of water each month. In
the cold winter months, the township barely goes past 30 million
gallons, but in the warm summer months, the number more than doubles.

The township has applied to the state for a larger water allotment,
90 million gallons, which Woolf said would alleviate the restrictions.

But the state is taking more time than usual for permits ever since
the drought of 2002. What used to take six months to a year is now a
process that extends almost two years.

The state Department of Environmental Protection, or DEP, confirmed
Barnegat's application, but would not say when a decision would be

In Stafford Township, they have avoided water restrictions by
instituting a 25-year strategy.

"In 2002, we added another well. And last year we were approved for
two more wells. I imagine I will be dead by the next time we apply for
another one," said township Administrator Paul Shives.

Water allocation permits affect developers as well.

Water-allocation permit issues stopped work at the Heritage Point
North senior development on West Bay Avenue between May and August
last year. And water permits also have suspended work at the nearby
and long-delayed Ocean Acres development

Under a borough ordinance, all age-restricted communities must be
hooked into the municipal system. But developers must seek state
permits before doing so.

A DEP-commissioned report issued in September painted a slightly grim
picture for southeastern New Jersey.

The state commissioned the report following 2002's water-supply
moratorium in three Atlantic County communities, which was triggered
by a sustained drought that taxed water supplies and effectively shut
down development for months.

The report covers the span from Toms River in Ocean County to Cape
May Point in Cape May County and west into the Camden, Gloucester and
Burlington county headwaters of the Great Egg Harbor and Mullica

Southeastern New Jersey will grow significantly in the coming
decades, the report said. The 557,424 people who live in the report's
coverage area will grow to 895,535 by 2050, increasing water demand by
60 percent, the report said.

This southeastern area already uses more water - 46 million gallons
per day - than goes back into the ground. The report said this will
increase to 160 million gallons by 2050.

In the short term, water withdrawals are slowly depleting underground
aquifers, causing streams to dry up and the need for deeper wells.

In the long run, less fresh water in the aquifers means that the
more-abundant salty ocean water could push back inland, rendering some
barrier-island wells useless in Cape May and Ocean counties, the
report says.

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