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July 20, 2004

Contact: Natalie Millner (718) 595-6600

Department Of Environmental Protection Updating City’s Drought Rules

Rules will be discussed at Public Hearing on Tuesday, July 20 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at St. Johns University-Manhattan Campus Auditorium, 101 Murray Street, New York

Commissioner Christopher O. Ward of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that the DEP is updating the City’s Drought Emergency Rules, which regulate water usage during times of drought.

“In light of recent experiences with drought, the DEP recognized that amendments to the drought rules are needed,” said Commissioner Ward. “The amended rules are streamlined and simplified, and redundancies and inconsistencies have been eliminated. The new rules will also provide for greater flexibility during various stages of a drought.”

City drought rules define the stages of a drought from Drought Watch to Drought Warning to Drought Emergency stages one through four. Various water use restrictions are applicable in each stage. Examples of drought restrictions include limits on car washing and lawn watering, prohibitions on the washing of streets and sidewalks, and limits on the use of ornamental fountains. (See all the current drought rules on the DEP’s Web site at

Changes in the amended rules include:

  • In a State One emergency, all paved surfaces may be washed with City water for public health reasons:

  • In a Stage One emergency, newly seeded/planted turf or plants way be watered on the day of planting and for the next two days;

  • In a Stage One emergency, ornamental uses of non-city water are permitted. In a Stage Two emergency, ornamental usage of even non-city water will be allowed if it serves an animal habitat.

  • DEP has the option of placing a flow restrictor on water lines as a sanction for non-compliance with drought rules.

New York City has experienced seven droughts since 1963, with the most recent one ending on January 3, 2003.


More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

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

(718) 595-6600