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February 10, 2015

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New York City Restaurants to Reduce Water Use and Save Thousands of Dollars 

30 Restaurants Aim to Reduce Water Consumption by 5 Percent and Save 3 Million Gallons of Water Annually

Restaurants Join New York City Hotels, Public Schools, Parks and Private Residences in Conservation Program Aimed at Ensuring Adequate Water Supply for Growing Population

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Emily Lloyd today announced that 30 of the city’s restaurants have joined the New York City Water Conservation Challenge.  As part of the challenge, each restaurant will work to reduce their annual water consumption by 5 percent and thereby save a total of approximately 3 million gallons of water each year.  Restaurants represent a significant opportunity for conservation and financial savings because they consume a fairly significant amount of water and have not been targeted in past conservation efforts, such as the toilet replacement program that focused on residential buildings.  The restaurants participating in the challenge include: Babbo, David Burke Fabrick, Etcetera Etcetera, Il Mulino, Kum Gang San, Lupa Osteria Romana, Macelleria, Maloney & Porcelli, Perilla, Russo's on the Bay, Tacombi at Fonda Nolita, Havana Central, Franny’s, Marco’s, Harlem Public, Tonys DiNapoli, Le Pain Quotidien, Le Bernardin, 67 Burger - Park Slope, 67 Burger - Fort Greene, Landmarc Columbus Circle, Ditch Plains, Kingside Restaurant, Landmarc Tribeca, Bogota Latin Bistro, Daniel, Khe-Yo, Marc Fargione, Grammercy Tavern and ACME.

“New York City restaurants are world renowned for the varied and delicious meals they offer, and through their water conservation efforts they will also be recognized for their leadership in sustainability,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd.  “By reducing their demand for water the restaurants have the opportunity to realize significant financial savings, and every gallon that is not consumed means significant savings for DEP in terms of operating the water system.”

“We are excited to partner with NYC DEP on the Water Challenge for restaurants,” said Chris Hickey, Regional Director NYC for the NYS Restaurant Association.  “Together we can promote sustainability within the restaurant sector while elevating better business practices and operational efficiency.”

“We are happy to see NYC DEP build on the success of their Hotel Challenge to help restaurants identify approaches to reduce their water use,” said Veronica Blette, program manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program.  “We look forward to sharing their experiences with other WaterSense utility partners around the country who are working with businesses to improve water efficiency.”

Participating restaurants are equipped with water meters and Automated Meter Reading devices which track water consumption in near real time. The restaurants will use 12 months of water consumption data to establish a baseline profile and track their progress in reducing water consumption and the City will develop a toolkit of resources to help them meet their targets efficiently.  Water reduction strategies may include good housekeeping techniques, such as finding and repairing leaks quickly, and developing literature that encourages customers to practice water conserving behavior.  Physical upgrades will also be explored, such as the replacement of inefficient plumbing fixtures and the adoption of new technologies that use water minimally, or reuse it to the extent possible. 

Reductions in water consumption can also help the restaurants realize financial savings.  Over the last 12 months, the participating restaurants consumed between 800,000 and 9 million gallons of water.  If they are able to meet the 5 percent reduction goal, each restaurant has the potential to realize savings of between $4,000 and $41,000 on their annual water and sewer bills, based on current rates.

DEP is in the midst of an initiative to reduce citywide water consumption by five percent as work progresses on an effort to repair leaks in the Delaware Aqueduct.  The tunnel supplies roughly half of the city’s daily drinking water from upstate reservoirs and, in order to complete the repairs, the tunnel must be temporarily shut down between 2022 and 2023.  DEP is currently building two 800 foot deep shafts that will be used to construct a 2.5-mile bypass tunnel around the leaking portion of the Aqueduct 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 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.  Demand reduction initiatives complement the more than $10 billion invested in New York City’s water supply infrastructure over the last decade. 

As part of the larger water conservation initiative, DEP has 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 at 400 playgrounds around the city that will save 1.5 million gallons of water a day.  More than 40,000 bathroom fixtures in 500 public school buildings are also being updated.  These retrofits will conserve approximately 4 million gallons of water each school day. 

DEP also recently honored eleven of the city’s premier hotels for their participation in New York City’s Hotel Water Conservation Challenge. Each of the hotels took steps to conserve water with the goal of reducing their total consumption by 5 percent. The Sheraton TriBeca achieved the best results, reducing their annual consumption by more than 20 percent. Three other hotels, The Intercontinental Barclay New York, The Ritz Carlton, and the Carlton Hotel also surpassed the 5 percent goal, each reducing their consumption by more than 10 percent. In total, the four hotels conserved nearly 11,300,000 gallons of water over the course of the challenge.  DEP also introduced the Hotel Manager’s Guide to Water Efficiency which provides tips on conserving water in guest rooms, common areas, food service, laundry and pool operations, and how to detect leaks.

To encourage water conservation in private properties, DEP has begun a voucher-based program to replace roughly 800,000 outdated residential toilets with high efficiency models.  The new toilet rebate program will build on the success of a similar rebate program that ran from 1994 to 1997 and replaced 1.3 million toilets and reduced citywide water consumption by 90 million gallons per day.  High-efficiency toilets use only 1.28 gallons of water per flush, compared to traditional toilets which can use as much as five gallons.  DEP has also launched an automated Leak Notification Program that sends an alert to property owners if there is an unusual spike in water consumption.  More than 72,000 customers have signed up for the program and have been able to quickly find and fix leaks on their property, saving more than $60 million in water charges. 

In addition, as part of the City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, owners of large buildings are required to annually measure their energy and water consumption in a process called benchmarking.  Local Law 84 standardizes this process and captures the information within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's free online benchmarking tool called Portfolio Manager.  By empowering building owners, and potential buyers, with a better understanding of a building's energy and water consumption, the market will eventually shift towards increasingly efficient, high-performing buildings.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than nine million residents, including eight 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 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, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

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