We all need fresh, clean water to live -- fresh water is a resource shared by everyone. It is also a limited resource. In the Barnegat Bay watershed, almost all of our water is depletive, which means we don’t recharge it or recycle it. Either we consume water, or it goes down the drain to be treated by the county sewage authority and then pumped three miles out into the ocean. This method works well to remove the wastes from the watershed, but it puts a large strain on the water cycle!
More than 560,000 people now live in the Barnegat Bay watershed (more than double that in the summer), and we are still growing. With increased population comes increased water demand. As more people draw water from the groundwater for their own use, there is less groundwater available to "feed" streams and rivers and creeks, and ultimately less freshwater entering the bay. The bay needs an adequate fresh water flow to be healthy. People need an adequate supply of groundwater too.
How can we reduce demand for water?
1. Lawn care consumes huge amounts of water (the greatest percent of overall household water use). If you must have a lawn, use low maintenance grasses, which are drought resistant and require a lot less watering once established.
2. Consider replacing at least a section of your lawn with native species of trees, shrubs, and flowers in your garden – native plants are drought and pest resistant and also require a lot less watering once they are established. They also don’t require fertilizers. Go to our native plant webpage to download our native plant guide, Going Native: A Guide to Landscaping with Native Plants in the Barnegat Bay Watershed, and see a list of native plant nurseries and suppliers for our region.
3. Purchase or build your own rain barrel to harvest rainwater for lawn and garden irrigation. During a typical modest rainstorm of 1” of rain during a 24-hour period, 700 gallons of water will run off the average roof. Collecting this water in a rain barrel and using it to irrigate at home can really cut down on your water bill as well!
1. In your home, use water-reducing shower heads, sinks, and toilets.
2. Use pervious, not impervious cover in your yard when possible – bricks, gravel, wood, or stone for walkways, driveways, patios – anything that lets water through.
3. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth, while soaping your hands, and while washing dishes.
Freshwater resources in the Barnegat Bay watershed
In the Barnegat Bay watershed, the primary sources of surface fresh water to the estuary are the Metedeconk River (a source of drinking water for residents of Brick Township, Point Pleasant and Point Pleasant Beach), Kettle Creek, Toms River, Cedar Creek, Forked River, Mill Creek, West Creek, and Tuckerton Creek.
Groundwater from the unconfined Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system is a major source of drinking water for the vast majority of residents of the Barnegat Bay watershed. This aquifer system is critical to the surface water quality in the watershed. It is regarded as the largest source of fresh water for the estuary because it provides the base flow for rivers and streams in the watershed.
WaterSense – a project of the US Environmental Protection Agency with a wealth of water conservation tips and product information.
The Water Page -- list of links to general resources about water conservation and educational resources (lesson plans, diagrams, activities, and more).
How to Conserve Water in the Bathroom
Forest to Faucet -- resources for teachers and students about water education
Know Your H2O.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County -- Sustainable Landscapes website.
Bayscaping resources available through the American Littoral Society website.
Native Plant Society of New Jersey.