It seems implausible that people would want to sprinkle their soggy lawns this week, with two to four inches of rain expected and flood watches in effect until Wednesday night for the Philadelphia area.

But Moorestown isn't taking any chances. On Monday, it issued a ban on sprinkler use between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and the Burlington County township also restricted off-hour sprinkling to every other day.

Township officials issue the conservation measure every year at this time in preparation for summer, when water demand strains the town's two water tanks, said Township Manager Christopher Schultz.

"Our operating system cannot handle the load," he said, adding that the measure has been in place for at least two decades.

Moorestown draws from two township wells but also buys water from New Jersey American Water, Schultz said. The town asks residents to conserve so it doesn't have to buy so much, he said.

Other South Jersey towns also have conservation measures in place, including Mount Laurel, which restricts sprinkling to alternate days year-round, said Carmen Morris, customer service representative at the Mount Laurel Municipal Utility Authority.

Water shortages won't be a problem for a while. Although the last four weeks have been a little drier than average, Burlington County received 8.1 inches of rain in the last two months, about a half-inch more than the average, said Gary Szatkowski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Mount Holly site. The story has been the same across South Jersey, he said.