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April 2, 2004

Contact: Ian Michaels (718) 595-6600

City Introduces Innovative New Comprehensive Water Re-Use Program

“CWRP” to Decrease Water Billing Rate for Buildings Which Recycle Some Water and Take Other Conservation Steps

Commissioner Christopher O. Ward of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced a new Comprehensive Water Re-use Program (CWRP) that will allow property owners who purchase equipment to recycle some of the water used in their properties, as well as take other water-saving measures, to receive water service from the City at a reduced rate.

The CWRP would require onsite treatment for a portion of the wastewater created in a building, and a system for re-using that treated water within the building in places that do not require the highest quality drinking water, such as toilets. In exchange, the City would reduce the rate that the property is billed for water by 25 percent.

“The Comprehensive Water Re-use Program is a way for property owners to decrease their water bills while being environmentally responsible,” said Commissioner Ward. “By recycling used water onsite for non-potable uses, the City can save on water delivery, maintenance and sewage treatment costs. But more importantly, we’ll drive down the total amount of water used in the City every day. In exchange, property owners will use less water and pay less for the water they do use.

“Water conservation is crucial to the long-term safety and reliability of the City’s water system. The simple facts are, it’s much easier and less expensive to conserve water than to secure additional water sources and build the necessary infrastructure that goes with them. We think so highly of this opportunity that it’s the first time the City has ever offered a different water rate for customers in any kind of water use program.”

To qualify for the 25 percent reduced water rate under the CWRP, buildings must have the following:

  • An onsite treatment system that captures and treats wastewater from the building and recycles it for use in toilets, irrigation and cooling towers. This would require at minimum a collection tank that has a trash trap that would remove debris from the recycled water and a secondary treatment process that performs sediment removal, color normalization and disinfection. It also requires a storage tank for treated recycled water;

  • A separate system to capture, store and treat stormwater for either non-potable or irrigation purposes;

  • A master water meter for the building and individual meters for all commercial tenants. Service lines for the recycling and storage systems must also be metered;

  • Low-flow fixtures throughout the building, including toilets that use 1.6 gallons per flush or less, and showerheads and faucets that use 2.5 gallons per minute or less. Washing machines in the building may also use at most 9.5 gallons per cubic foot of capacity.

In return for performing the above, buildings qualify for the following:

  • A water rate reduction of 25 percent;

  • The property will be eligible to apply for a sewer allowance based on the proportion of household wastewater and stormwater that remains out of the sewer system as compared to a building that has no water recycling system.

Buildings would also have to demonstrate water usage that is 25 percent less than other buildings of comparable size and usage to qualify. They also have to be up to date on their bill payments.

The current rate charged for water in New York City is $1.52 per 100 cubic feet, or 748 gallons. The sewer rate is calculated as 159 percent of the water charge, or $2.42 per 100 cubic feet.

New York City in 2004 uses more than 25 percent less water every day than it did in 1991 -- around 1.1 billion gallons a day as opposed to almost 1.5 billion gallons a day in 1991. The change is due in large part to a massive conservation drive by the Department of Environmental Protection that has included universal water metering, a Toilet Rebate Program that replaced over 1.3 million old water-wasting toilets, a program to install fire hydrant locks in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs, and a leak detection program to inspect underground water mains for leaks.

Water use in the City has also been driven down by a local law that requires low-flow fixtures in all new construction and for building renovations. Additional savings have been seen from public education campaigns and smaller conservation programs, including one to put water displacement bags in individual toilet tanks, which saves around a gallon per flush in those toilets.

“The progress we’ve seen in a short time from previous water conservation programs has been remarkable,” said Commissioner Ward. “But we need to keep thinking about ways to push consumption down further. It is necessary for us to have water use at a level that can be sustained in the future considering all the potential supply and delivery issues.”


More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

59-17 Junction Boulevard
19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600