FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 14-95
November 26, 2014
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Department of Environmental Protection Commits $350,000 to Help Largest Upstate Wholesale Water Customers Develop Conservation Plans
Water demand management plans will help save water and money, while also protecting the New York City water supply system against future droughts
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that it has committed $350,000 to help its largest upstate wholesale water customers develop conservation plans aimed at saving water, and money, in the future. DEP will work collaboratively with the upstate customers to identify demand management strategies with a goal of reducing their water use by 5 percent. DEP has initially offered the planning service to the 10 largest customers upstate, which include communities in Orange and Westchester counties.
“The development and future implementation of water demand management plans upstate will have benefits for the local communities and for New York City,” DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said. “The plans will help upstate customers identify water loss from their systems and save money, while also providing the flexibility for DEP to make infrastructure repairs and deal with droughts in the future.”
“We are looking forward to working with New York City DEP on water demand management,” said Westchester Joint Water Works General Manager Tony Conetta. “The program will give us a better understanding of water usage and will contribute to wiser and more efficient uses of this critical resource in the future.”
“New York City has been very proactive with identifying the need for water demand management planning in upstate communities,” New Windsor Town Supervisor George Green said. "Not only will these plans help with conservation, they will also help with sizing new water and wastewater infrastructure projects which equates to real cost savings for the water rate payers.”
Development of the conservation plans will be guided by the local water utilities with assistance from DEP and Water Demand Management, a Colorado company that specializes in demand management for drinking water systems. While the plans will be crafted to reflect the unique needs of each community, they will likely include system-wide audits of water use, analysis on controlling water loss by eliminating leaks and faulty meters, and conservation opportunities such as replacing older fixtures with more efficient ones.
The opportunity to develop a demand management plan has been initially offered to each of the 10 largest upstate customers that purchase water from New York City’s water supply system. They include the City of Yonkers, United Water New Rochelle, Westchester Joint Water Works, the City of Mount Vernon, Westchester County Water District #1 (White Plains), Northern Westchester Joint Water Works, the Town of Greenburgh, the Village of Scarsdale, the Town of New Windsor and the Village of Ossining. These wholesale customers individually purchase 2–27 million gallons per day on average, and combined they represent approximately 83 percent of the upstate demand on New York City’s water supply system.
The participating customers will begin developing their plans early next year. The planning process is expected to finish by the end of 2015. DEP expects to commit additional funding to help with the implementation of selected water-demand strategies that are outlined in the plans. The plans will also provide the local water utilities with the information, data and background needed to apply for grants from other sources in the future.
Earlier this year, DEP and the Water Research Foundation hosted a free workshop where the City’s upstate water customers were invited to learn about strategies for long-term water conservation and its benefits. Water conservation can help homeowners and businesses save money, and it is also important for the long-term sustainability of New York City’s water supply system. Water utilities employ a set of strategies known as “demand management” that, in addition to focusing on conservation, seek to better understand and control water use in transmission and distribution systems. Typical strategies of water demand management programs—which may be included in the upcoming plans—include system-wide audits of water use, metering with automated reading or advanced metering systems, and leak detection. Promoting more efficient use of water will allow DEP to make progress on key infrastructure projects now and in the future, along with helping the water supply withstand future droughts.
New York City’s water consumption has steadily declined since it hit a peak of more than 1.6 billion gallons per day in the late 1970s, when the five boroughs were home to roughly 7 million people. Today, New York City’s water supply system provides an average of 1.1 billion gallons per day to 8.4 million people in the five boroughs and an additional million people in four upstate counties. The reduction in water use during that time is attributable to better metering and more efficient appliances and fixtures.
In 2012, DEP began its Water Demand Management Program, with a goal of reducing citywide water use by 5 percent, or 50 million gallons per day. As part of the program, DEP has begun updating bathroom fixtures in 500 city schools, which will save an estimated 4 million gallons of water each day. It also partnered with the City Department of Parks and Recreation to install activation buttons on spray showers in 400 playgrounds around the city, which will save another 1.5 million gallons a day. Outreach programs that encourage residents to fix leaks, and a challenge among the city’s largest hotels to reduce their water consumption by 5 percent are also part of the program.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of high quality water each day to more than 9 million New Yorkers. This includes more than 70 upstate communities and institutions in Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties who consume an average of 110 million total gallons of drinking water daily from New York City’s water supply system. This water comes from the Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds that extend more than 125 miles from the City, and the system comprises 19 reservoirs, three controlled lakes, and numerous tunnels and aqueducts. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 scientists, engineers, surveyors, watershed maintainers and others professionals in the upstate watershed. In addition to its $70 million payroll and $157 million in annual taxes paid in upstate counties, DEP has invested more than $1.7 billion in watershed protection programs—including partnership organizations such as the Catskill Watershed Corporation and the Watershed Agricultural Council—that support sustainable farming practices, environmentally sensitive economic development, and local economic opportunity. 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. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/nycwater, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/nycwater.