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Variance from Drought Emergency Rules Washing of Sidewalks, Streets, Driveways and Outdoor Areaways for Health and Safety Purposes

The Drought Emergency rules contained in Title15, Chapter 21 of the Rules of the City of New York (the "Rules") became effective on April 1, 2002 upon Mayor Bloomberg's declaration of a Stage I Drought Emergency in New York City. All residents, businesses, and governmental entities in New York City must comply with these Rules. The Rules give the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection the ability to grant, in his or her discretion, a variance relieving a person or entity from compliance with the requirement of the Rules, provided that a satisfactory demonstration of certain specified criteria is made.

When New York City is experiencing very hot weather, the health and safety problems posed by animal and human wastes and garbage on City streets are greatly exacerbated. In many instances, if not cleaned properly, the wastes pose a serious health threat. Under §21-03 (c), the spraying, washing, or wetting of any street, sidewalk, driveway, outdoor areaway (including any recreational area, whether at ground level or on a structure) or outdoor steps, by means of a hose, fire hydrant or other source connected to the public water system or which utilizes public water is prohibited. In view of the (i) advent of hotter summer weather and and (ii) the resulting health and safety hazard posed by the presence of wastes in the mentioned areas, and the continued risk that exists if the waste is not cleaned thoroughly and properly, DEP has determined that compliance with this particular provision of the Rules presents an undue hardship. As such, DEP hereby issues a variance from §21-03(c) of the Rules with respect to the washing of sidewalks, streets, driveways, outdoor areaways and outdoor steps to remove animal and human wastes and garbage, subject to the following conditions:

  1. The cleaning can only be performed when a true health or safety hazard is present. The variance does not extend to use of water for other reasons (aesthetic improvements; regular cleaning; etc.). To the extent that such water use is prohibited by the Rules, it remains prohibited.

  2. The cleaning can only be performed from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., in accordance with the following schedule:
    1. At even-numbered addresses, on even-numbered days of the month.
    2. At odd-numbered addresses, on odd-numbered days of the month.

  3. Non-potable water must be used to the maximum extent practicable.

  4. The cleaning must be performed with the following equipment: hand-held hoses equipped with nozzle tips or in-line hose flow regulators which effectively limit water output to a maximum flow rate of 5 gallons per minute; or high-powered pressure washers that limit water output to 3 gallons per minute.

  5. Only the amount of water reasonably necessary to accomplish the cleaning may be used (amounts in excess thereof are considered waste and are prohibited).

  6. DEP reserves the right to inspect any property where water is being used to ensure that these conditions are being observed. Any failure to observe these conditions shall be deemed a violation of the Rules and shall subject the violator to the penalties associated with violations of the Rules.

  7. DEP reserves the right to modify or withdraw this variance if, in its opinion, the circumstances so warrant, including, but not limited to, the declaration of a higher stage of drought emergency.

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