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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE12-01

January 4, 2012

CONTACT:

Farrell Sklerov / Michael Saucier  (718) 595-6600

Statement from DEP Commissioner Strickland and Interested Parties on Adoption of New On-Site Stormwater Controls for New Construction Projects

Stormwater Rule a Key Step Toward Achieving Goals of NYC Green Infrastructure Plan and Improving Water Quality

 
"New developments will now be part of the solution in our efforts to have a cleaner and more beautiful harbor," said Commissioner Strickland. "In the past, runoff from buildings and pavement added significant volume in our combined sewer system that ultimately discharges a mix of stormwater and sewage directly into the city's surrounding waterways when it rains. The new stormwater rule requires new construction and major building alterations to capture substantially more runoff through cost-effective measures, providing additional capacity in the combined sewer system. This new rule is the result of years of discussions with real estate, development and environmental stakeholders. It is an integral part of the groundbreaking NYC Green Infrastructure Plan, which proposes a more sustainable and adaptive approach to improve the water quality in New York Harbor for improved development and recreational opportunities, while also saving billions of dollars for our ratepayers."

"The costs of operating the City's water and sewer infrastructure is a cost that all New Yorkers in some way share," said Steven Spinola, President of the Real Estate Board of New York. "The stormwater rule, as a critical part of the City's Green Infrastructure Plan that will reap billions in savings over 20 years, will provide great relief to residents and businesses during economically difficult times. We appreciate DEP's engagement with REBNY on this ambitious rule, which resulted in a more holistically sustainable solution that minimized unnecessary costs, as well as the City's commitment to continue working with the real estate industry on facilitating green infrastructure and rainwater reuse in New York City buildings."

"The Department of Environmental Protection's Green Infrastructure Plan represents a fundamental shift in the city's approach to stormwater management. Where the city has historically directed all rainwater to concrete detention tanks, sewers and treatment plants, under the new plan the city will also rely on natural systems so that rain can be absorbed back into the ground and used by vegetation, savings money and improving water quality. The stormwater rule that is being released today is a critical piece of that plan and incorporates public feedback from the green building industry," said Urban Green Council Executive Director Russell Unger.

New York City, like other older urban areas, is largely serviced by a combined sewer system where stormwater and wastewater are carried through a single pipe. During heavy storms, the system can exceed its capacity and must discharge a mix of stormwater and wastewater — called a combined sewer overflow, or CSO — into New York Harbor. Enhancing an already existing requirement, the rule will employ a wide range of on-site stormwater control techniques to all new development, redevelopment and major alterations in combined sewer areas. DEP estimates that the rule will limit stormwater discharge on development lots to approximately 10% of present permitted flow to the combined sewer system using cost-effective detention, infiltration, and recycling techniques such as blue roofs, green roofs, or subsurface gravel beds and stormwater chambers. This rule will lead to on-site control systems that are projected to reduce combined sewer overflows by as much as 800 million gallons over the next 20 years based on historic development trends. No existing homes or developments will be affected by the new rule. The rule delivers a key component of the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan announced by Mayor Bloomberg in 2010. The NYC Green Infrastructure Plan proposed a total investment of $2.4 billion over the next 20 years in green infrastructure to improve harbor water quality by capturing and retaining stormwater runoff before it enters the sewer system. The cost impact of the new standard on a project's development is estimated to be an additional 0.3% to 1.5% of total construction costs.

The rule, which can be viewed at www.nyc.gov/dep, was developed through numerous meetings over the past two years between DEP, the building industry and environmental organizations, including the Real Estate Board of New York, the Regional Planning Association, American Institute of Architects, Buildings Sustainability Board, Citizens for Affordable Housing, US Green Buildings Council and the Green Infrastructure Steering Committee. DEP also held numerous task force meetings with the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, the Department of Buildings, and its other partners across city agencies.  Based on extensive feedback, the rule credits stormwater volume reduction from infiltration into underlying soils, recycling for on-site use, and permeable surface cover including rain gardens and porous pavement, all of which can reduce the size of stormwater management systems.

To assist with the implementation of the new rule, DEP has also published a companion document, Guidelines for the Design and Construction of Stormwater Management Systems, offering guidance to the applicants with the selection, planning, design and construction of on-site stormwater detention systems. The manual was developed in consultation with the Department of Buildings, and will feature guidance on siting, design and construction considerations for various stormwater control systems, as well as operation and maintenance recommendations. The guidelines will be continually updated to reflect the latest technology and best practices, and will also include a system calculator to assist developers and licensed professionals in determining space requirements for the most appropriate system when the final rule takes effect in six months after today's publication.

DEP manages the city's water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than nine million residents, including eight million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,400 miles of sewer lines and 95 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP employs nearly 6,000 employees and has a robust capital program with a planned $13.2 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nycwater, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nycwater.

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