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January 21, 2016

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New York City Restaurants Conserve Water and Improve Their Bottom Line

By Reducing Their Water Consumption by More Than 2.5 Million Gallons Last Year, Restaurants Saved up to $10,000 on Water Bills

New Restaurant Manager’s Guide Offers Tips on Water Conservation

Photos of Participating Restaurants are Available on DEP’s Flickr Page

New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Emily Lloyd today announced that the 2015 New York City Water Challenge to Restaurants resulted in a savings of more than 2.5 million gallons of water. Over the past year, each of the participating restaurants worked closely with DEP to audit their water use, replace or retrofit inefficient water using appliances, and eliminate costly leaks. Le Bernardin and Perilla achieved the best results, dropping their annual consumption of water by more than 20 percent, while Etcetera, Etcetera and Marc Forgione cut their consumption by more than 15 percent. Landmarc, Kum Gang San, and Russo’s on the Bay reduced their water use by more than 10 percent while Mancelleria also surpassed the 5 percent goal. In aggregate, the restaurants conserved nearly 2,600,000 gallons of water and saved up to $10,142 on their annual water and sewer bills. As a result of concerted water conservation programs over the last 30 years, overall water use in the city has declined from over 1.5 billion gallons a day in 1980 to roughly 1 billion gallons a day at present, while the city’s population grew from just over 7.1 million to 8.5 million in the same period.

“New York City is fortunate to have an abundant supply of high quality tap water today, but we must continue to plan for a growing population and the likely effects of a changing climate,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “I would like to extend my thanks to the participants in the New York City Water Challenge to Restaurants. By reducing their water use, the restaurants have achieved significant financial savings and have proven that New York City’s restaurants are not only world renowned for their delicious cuisine, but are also leaders in sustainability.”

“It has been exciting to see how NYC DEP has leveraged our WaterSense at Work guide to help its customers improve water efficiency”, said Veronica Blette, program manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program. “It has been a great partnership and we are pleased to see the restaurants recognized through the Challenge achieving real water savings for themselves and the City.”

“Our Team at Restaurant Marc Forgione is extremely happy about participating in the NYC Water challenge and appreciate the recognition in having exceeded our goals” said Chris Blumlo, Managing Partner of Restaurant Marc Forgione. “The initiative opened our eyes to both big and small ways that we can make a difference when it comes to water conservation, while having a positive impact on our profitability. The recommendations given to us during the initiative had a real impact on our water usage and we are proud to have been a part of such a valuable program.”

“Russo’s on the Bay is a family owned business that has hosted events for New Yorkers for over 50 years and we’re happy to help support New York City services,” said Michael Russo, Building Manager of Russo’s on the Bay. “By participating in the NYC Water Challenge to Restaurants we were provided with guidance and resources to help us better understand where our savings opportunities were.”

Most of the participating restaurants were equipped with water meters and Automated Meter Reading devices that tracked water consumption in near real time. The restaurants used 12 months of water consumption data to establish a baseline profile and track their conservation progress and the City developed a toolkit of resources to help them meet their targets efficiently. Water reduction strategies included good housekeeping techniques, such as finding and repairing leaks quickly, and developing literature that encourages customers to practice water-conserving behavior. Physical upgrades were also explored, such as the replacement of inefficient plumbing and the adoption of new technologies that use water minimally, or reuse it to the extent possible. Over the last 12 months, the top participating establishments in the Challenge conserved between 14,513 and 768,677 gallons of water per month. Based on current rates, the restaurants achieved a savings of between $191 and $10,142 on their annual water and sewer bills.

DEP is also introducing the new Restaurant Manager’s Guide to Water Efficiency, which contains water conservation advice in topic areas ranging from low-cost retrofits and equipment replacement to staff education. The guide is a result of lessons learned from each challenge participant and will be distributed to restaurants throughout the five boroughs in an effort to replicate the success of New York City Water Challenge to Restaurants. New York City hosts over 25,000 foodservice establishments. These spaces vary from fast food joints, delis, bars, cafeterias, catering halls, and restaurants. Water consumption in these spaces varies from a few thousand gallons to millions of gallons a month.

Other conservation programs include New York City’s Hotel Water Conservation Challenge where The Sheraton TriBeca, The Intercontinental Barclay New York, The Ritz Carlton, and the Carlton Hotel conserved nearly 11,300,000 gallons of water. DEP has also produced 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.

DEP is also working to identify opportunities to conserve water at City-owned properties and facilities. As part of an ongoing partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, activation buttons are being installed on spray showers at 400 playgrounds around the city that will save 1.5 million gallons of water a day. In addition, more than 40,000 bathroom fixtures in 500 public school buildings across the city are also being updated. These retrofits will conserve approximately 4 million gallons of water each school day.

Overall, 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 completing the construction of 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. 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.

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 9 million residents, including 8.5 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. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 in the upstate watershed. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $14 billion in investments 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 will 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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