water-emergencyRumson is among local towns being asked to conserve water. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


High temperatures and a lack of rain prompted the area’s leading water supplier to declare a water emergency over the holiday weekend with little warning, leaving some residents and local officials puzzled.

On Saturday, New Jersey American Water issued a mandate restricting all non-essential water usage, such as watering lawns and washing cars, to its customers, many of whom are in redbankgreen‘s coverage area.

But without the typical media blitz from the PR departments warning people of the risk of a water emergency, the restrictions came as a bit of shock to some.

“The odd thing to me is that we wound up in sort of a critical situation without any water,” said Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl. “Normally, there’s some build up to a water crisis, and in this case, we didn’t have it.”

“It was very surprising,” said Fair Haven resident Lisa Toohey.

The water company did issue an advisory on July 1, but unless you’re following it on Twitter or routinely checking its website, it was easy to miss. And because of the holiday weekend, local officials were left with little information to give.

Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre said he received the notification on Saturday, and posted it on the borough’s website and his blog later in the day. Other than that, he’s not sure why it was issued.

“I only know what they tell me,” he said. “I don’t know if it took them by surprise.”

A press release from the company says that, “a spell of high temperatures and a lack of precipitation (has) resulted in higher than normal water demand in Monmouth County.”

Ekdahl suspects more information will come out today, as will complaints. He said Rumson police fielded phone calls inquiring about the mandate, but since borough hall was shut down for the holiday, local leadership hasn’t had any formal communication with residents.

“I’m expecting when we come to work tomorrow that we’ll have some calls from residents,” Ekdahl said.

Water customers, though, should have no doubt that the restrictions are in effect — many have reported that they’ve received at least a couple of automated phone calls a day from the company advising them of the temporary water ban.

“All I know is American Water keeps calling,” Fair Haven Councilman Bob Marchese said. “They have these robo-calls going out. In the last four days I got three to four calls.”

Toohey said she’s picked up at least five phone calls in the last couple of days, but she doesn’t see it as an annoyance.

“I do think the information system they’re using is great. The phone calls are awesome,” she said. “There is a little blip, but it’s good information.”

Tinton Falls resident Natalie Zilincar said she’s a little annoyed by both the phone calls and the restrictions. She has some flowers at home she’d like to water.

“They’re probably going to die if this continues,” she said. “But it’s not a big issue. There are more important things to worry about.”

The water restrictions are in effect until further notice, and an easing would not appear to be imminent. The National Weather Service says the Red Bank area will feel another scorcher today, with temperatures nearing 100 degrees. Next chance of showers and/or thunderstorms is Wednesday and Thursday, it says.

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