- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - State officials have issued a drought watch for parts of central, coastal and northern New Jersey.

The Environmental Protection Department announced the move Wednesday, saying too little rainfall was to blame.

The department is urging residents to voluntarily conserve their water use.

The affected regions include all or parts of 12 counties, including Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset and Union.

Officials suggest residents shouldn’t over-water lawns. But they should fix leaky pipes and turn off faucets while brushing their teeth or shaving.

The department says if the weather remains warm and dry, it could consider issuing a drought warning. That could lead to officials asking water companies to come up with plans to transfer water from areas with more to those with less.

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