FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 14-46
May 23, 2014
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Department of Environmental Protection Announces $23 Million High Efficiency Toilet Replacement Program
Program aims to replace as many as 200,000 toilets in up to 10,000 buildings citywide
Five percent reduction in water consumption could reduce carbon emissions by 15,500 metric tons per year, the equivalent of removing 3,300 cars from the road
New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Emily Lloyd today announced a new $23 million toilet replacement program to replace inefficient toilets in select residential properties across the five boroughs. The first phase of the program will begin later this spring, and will target between 7,000 and 10,000 building owners who participate in DEP’s Multifamily Conservation Program. The toilet replacement program has the potential to replace as many as 200,000 older toilets with high efficiency models that use 1.28 gallons or less per flush and it is anticipated that this will save approximately 10 million gallons of water each day. The toilet replacement program is part of DEP’s broader efforts to reduce demand for water by 5 percent, citywide, ahead of the planned shutdown and repair of the Delaware Aqueduct, which currently supplies about half of the city’s drinking water. In addition to helping ensure the city has an adequate supply of healthy drinking water during the temporary shutdown of the Delaware Aqueduct, the 5 percent reduction in consumption will reduce electricity, chemicals, and other costs associated with operating the water system. It will also cut carbon emissions from the wastewater treatment process by more than 15,500 metric tons per year, the equivalent of removing 3,300 cars from the road or planting more than 400,000 trees and letting them grow for ten years.
“In many parts of the country, cities and towns are struggling through some of the worst drought conditions in recent history, and that should remind New Yorkers that we need to make thoughtful investments now that will protect the city’s growing population from the effects of climate change, said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd.”
Over the next few weeks, DEP will mail information to qualified customers on how to participate, which will include filling out an application on DEP’s My DEP Account web-site to receive a $125 voucher that can be redeemed at a participating vendor for the purchase of a high efficiency toilet. DEP has determined there are several toilet models certified as high-efficiency by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that sell for $125 or less. In the future DEP hopes to broaden the program to include smaller residential buildings that could replace an additional 550,000 toilets and save a total of 30 million gallons of water each day citywide by 2018.
The residential toilet replacement program aims to build on the success of a similar program that ran from 1994 to 1997 and replaced 1.3 million toilets reducing citywide water consumption by 90 million gallons per day. High-efficiency toilets use only 1.28 gallons of water or less per flush, compared to traditional toilets that can use as much as five gallons. As a result of that program, the transition from frontage billing to metered billing, and the roll out of Automated Meter Readers and real-time feedback about water consumption, overall water use in the city has declined from over 1.5 billion gallons a day in 1980 to 1.1 billion gallons a day at present, while the City’s population grew from just over 7.1 million to 8.4 million in the same period. As outlined in PlaNYC, the city’s population is expected to grow to over 9 million by 2030. In order to meet this increasing demand for water, DEP has invested a record $10.5 billion in our supply and distribution system over the last decade and will complement those investments by continuing to expand conservation programs.
One of the keys to ensuring a continued supply of clean drinking water for the city’s growing population is a project to repair the leaking Delaware Aqueduct, which currently supplies about half the city’s drinking water. DEP has begun building two 800 foot deep shafts that will be used to construct a 2.5-mile bypass tunnel around a portion of the Delaware Aqueduct that is leaking in Roseton in Orange County. The project will also include repair work to fix leaks in Wawarsing, in Ulster County, from the inside of the existing tunnel. The 2.5 mile bypass tunnel will run east from the Town of Newburgh in Orange County, under the Hudson River, to the Town of Wappinger in Dutchess County. In order to facilitate these repairs to the Aqueduct, the tunnel must be temporarily shut down between 2021 and 2022. In preparation for the shutdown, DEP has developed a combination of conservation programs and supplemental supplies that will ensure an uninterrupted supply of water. The program was initially estimated to cost over $2 billion but through advances in the engineering and design of the bypass and the water supply projects to support the repair, the estimated cost has been reduced to approximately $1.5 billion.
In addition to conserving water in private residences through the toilet rebate program, DEP also developed the Municipal Water Efficiency Program to identify opportunities to conserve water at City-owned properties and facilities. As part of this program, DEP has already begun a partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to install activation buttons on spray showers in 400 playgrounds around the city that will save 1.5 million gallons of water a day. DEP has also begun updating bathroom fixtures in 500 city schools that will save an additional 4 million gallons of water each day.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8.4 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 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program, with nearly $14 billion in investments planned over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. This capital program is responsible for critical projects like City Water Tunnel No. 3; the Staten Island Bluebelt program, an ecologically sound and cost-effective stormwater management system; the city’s Watershed Protection Program, which protects sensitive lands upstate near the city’s reservoirs in order to maintain their high water quality; and the installation of more than 820,000 Automated Meter Reading devices, which will allow customers to track their daily water use, more easily manage their accounts and be alerted to potential leaks on their properties. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/nycwater, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/nycwater.