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Water Use Restrictions

Summary of 15 RCNY Chapters 20 and 21

  Non Emergency Restrictions
(including Normal, Drought Watch and Drought Warning conditions)
Drought Emergency
Stage I Stage II Stage III
Leaks and Waste Prohibited Prohibited, greater fines Same as Stage I Same as Stage I
Vehicle Washing Non-commercial: Hose must have a self-closing nozzle.  Commercial: At least 75% of water must be recirculated or well water Prohibited except where required by law or health and safety rules, or if well water is used Same as Stage I Same as Stage I
Washing Sidewalks, Driveways, Streets Prohibited November 1 -  March 31, and also during other months from 11 am to 7 pm. Prohibited, except as required by Code or health and safety rules Prohibited Prohibited
Watering Lawns/Turf Hoses and sprinklers prohibited November 1 -  March 31, and also during other months from 11 am to 7 pm. Automatic sprinklers must have a rain sensor. Further restricted to 7-9 am and 7-9 pm, even number addresses on even dates, odd number addresses on odd dates. Golf courses may water only tees and greens. Prohibited Prohibited
Watering Non-Turf Plants Hoses and sprinklers prohibited November 1 -  March 31, and also during other months from 11am to 7 pm. Automatic sprinklers must have a rain sensor. Only hand-held watering containers, hoses restricted to less than 5 gpm, or low-pressure/low-flow irrigation can be used Same as Stage I except use of hand-held containers is limited to recycled water or (if not feasible) to the minimum amount necessary to prevent permanent plant damage. Same as Stage II except wherever possible use recycled or well water (before using City water) for watering all plant material.
Ornamental Fountains Water must be recirculated Prohibited Prohibited Prohibited
Water/Sewer Rates none DEP Commissioner may ask the New York City Water Board to consider a "Drought Emergency Contingency Rate Plan" to increase rates to encourage conservation during the Emergency.
Water Served In Restaurants Only if requested by patron same same  same
Swimming Pools none Must recirculate, fill 1 time per year, top off minimally as needed Only pools open to the public may be filled or maintained same
Showerheads Sale or installation of products using more than 2.5 gpm is prohibited All showerheads in use must use 2.5 gpm or less same same
Hydrant Use Prohibited without DEP permit  same same same
Non-Recirc. Watercooled AC and Refrigeration Over 6 tons of refrigeration or 2 tons of AC is prohibited Over 2 tons of either is prohibited same same
Water-Cooled AC with Cooling Tower Properties with steam-source refrigeration must use some condensate for cooling tower make-up. same same Indoor air dry-bulb temperature must be 79 degrees minimum. Health care facilities are exempt. EDP facilities are exempt but must provide proof of maximum temp. tolerated by equipment.


During all stages of Drought Emergency, "Save Water" signs must be posted in all buildings except residential properties under five units.

The signs shall contain the following wording, shall be at least 6" x 9", and the heading "SAVE WATER" shall be at least 3/4" in height.

Report Leaks and Water Waste
Call 311

Save Water Sign (PDF)

These signs shall be posted as follows:

  • Residential:  At each entrance and mailboxes
  • Hotels:  At each entrance, in common bathrooms, entrances to eating facilities, at check-in desks, and at cashiers
  • Hospitals:  At each entrance, bath or shower room, lab, and in restaurants/cafeterias
  • Office Buildings:  At each entrance, bathroom, and dining room/cafeteria
  • Other non-residential:  At each entrance, bath or shower room, lab, cafeteria, dining area or other location where water is used.

During a Stage II and III Emergency, additional signs are required:

  • All buildings:  In each elevator and elevator lobby
  • Hotels:  All public hallways, on each floor, in each elevator and in guest bathroom.

Well Water

These restrictions do not apply to the use of water from wells with appropriate permits (except for the prohibition or ornamental fountains). When using well water, DEP recommends displaying an 8.5"x11" sign with letters at least 1" high saying:


In Stage III, the sign is mandatory.