Water Distribution System Optimization
With nearly 7,000 miles of sub-surface water main infrastructure serving more than 8 million people throughout the five boroughs, DEP recognizes the importance of ensuring that our distribution infrastructure is in excellent operating condition at all times.
Building upon the success of the Universal Metering Program, DEP has enhanced its commitment to monitoring water usage and detecting inefficiencies in its system by expanding its existing leak detection efforts. For over 40 years, DEP’s Leak Detection Unit has investigated leaks throughout the city’s water distribution system in order to prevent property damage, water loss and infrastructure failure. Leak detection improves overall system efficiency, which can translate to significant water savings benefitting citywide conservation and demand management efforts. Over the past three years, DEP leak detection crews have surveyed more than 6,500 miles of water mains. Repairing the leaks discovered during these surveys can save millions of gallons of water per day.
Because of the value of these water savings to the agency and to the Water for the Future program, DEP is evaluating the possibility of expanding its leak detection program from water mains in streets to interconnections in large tax parcels containing multiple buildings. DEP will be targeting public-housing developments as well as educational institutions across the city. DEP has also developed a Leak Notification Program to proactively alert customers to potential water leaks on their property. All residential DEP customers with Automated Meter Reading devices are eligible for the Leak Notification Program, and since its inception in 2011, it has saved customers more than $33.5 million in wasted water and avoided repair costs.
Working together with our customers to effectively manage our water distribution system is fundamental to DEP’s comprehensive approach to demand management. By making it easier for our customers to discover and repair leaks, we all benefit from fewer leaks, more water savings, and a more efficient distribution system. As part of the Water Demand Management Plan, DEP will continue to optimize metering and automated metering infrastructure networks which serve 836,000 customer accounts. By optimizing these systems, DEP plans to monitor an additional 30% of our overall daily water consumption currently associated with flat-rate billing accounts. In addition to tracking additional consumption through Automated Meter Reading technology, DEP will continue to replace old and faulty meters with new, more efficient and durable meter models and improve the Pressure Management program to prevent drastic fluctuations in pressure zones that can cause water mains to leak or break. Over the past six years, improved pressure management in the distribution system has led to a 40% reduction in water main breaks.