FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE01-54
Contact: Geoff Ryan
York City Water Supply Below Normal
In recent weeks, both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
(DEC) and the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) have declared drought
alerts in parts of the watersheds that feed New York City's reservoirs. DEC
has issued a "Drought Watch" for 13 counties in southeastern New
York, including the eight watershed counties of the City's Water Supply. DRBC
issued a "Drought Watch," followed by a "Drought Warning,"
that relates to three major reservoirs of the City's supply system in Sullivan
and Delaware counties.
"While New York City's reservoir system has not yet reached Drought
Watch level, the reservoirs are very low and we are asking consumers to save
water voluntarily," said DEP Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E. "If
the current dry weather patterns continue, a Drought Watch for New York City
and Westchester County could be declared in December. Although it is always
prudent to conserve water, the dry conditions we have been experiencing make
conservation even more important."
Currently, the City's reservoirs are at 53% of capacity, roughly 16% percentage
points below the normal level of 69% for this date. The low water levels are
attributed to below average rainfall in the City's nearly 2,000-square-mile
watershed for the last several months. Daily water use in the City has been
averaging about1.2 billion gallons per day, well down from 1.45 billion gallons
consumed in 1991. The dramatic reduction in consumption is attributable to
several comprehensive water conservation measures implemented in the City
and by DEP over the last ten years, including the installation of water meters
and of nearly 1.7 million low-flow toilets and other plumbing fixtures. Without
those conservation measures, the City would have declared a Drought Watch
several weeks ago.
According to the City's drought management plan, a Drought Watch is declared
when there is less than a fifty percent chance that the City's reservoirs
will be full by June 1, the start of the water year. That determination is
reached through careful analyses of the historic records of reservoir levels
Delaware River Basin water resources include the City's Pepacton, Cannonsville
and Neversink Reservoirs, which provide roughly half of New York City's water
supply. In addition to water from these reservoirs, the balance of the City's
drinking water comes from Catskill area reservoirs (40%) and from the Croton
water system (10%).
Commissioner Miele is urging residents and businesses to practice voluntary
water conservation to help extend the current water supply. Simple tips for
conserving water include operating dishwashers and washing machines only when
full, taking shorter showers or shallow baths, and sweeping sidewalks clean
instead of using a water hose. Other important conservation measures include
fixing faucet leaks, which can waste hundreds of gallons of water every week,
and reporting illegally opened hydrants to DEP's 24-hour helpline, 718/DEP-HELP
(718/337-4357). New Yorkers may read more about water conservation and the
City's water supply on-line at www.nyc.gov/dep.
Water Saving Tips
1. Report open fire hydrants and street leaks to DEP's 24-hour helpline,
718/DEP-HELP. An open hydrant can waste one million gallons of drinking water
2. Take advantage of DEP's free water survey to help save water and cut
water bills in residential and commercial buildings. To apply City residents
can call 718/DEP-HELP.
3. Take shorter showers or fill the tub only halfway and save water.
4. Don't run the tap while shaving or brushing your teeth.
5. Fix leaks. Leaky faucets alone can waste up to 1,000 gallons each week.
6. Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when full. Or use short cycles
7. Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket. Each unnecessary flush can waste
1.6 to 5 gallons.
8. Install water-saving fixtures including toilets, showerheads and faucet
9. Sweep driveways and sidewalks clean rather than washing them down with
10. For more water saving ideas visit DEP's Web site at www.nyc.gov/dep.