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July 21, 2014

CONTACT:, (718) 595-6600

Department of Environmental Protection and City Council Member Eric Ulrich Distribute Rain Barrels to 120 Homeowners in Belle Harbor

Rain Barrels Collect Precipitation, Reduce Residential Water Bills and Help to Protect the Health of Jamaica Bay

Photos of the Event can be Viewed on DEP’s Flickr Page

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on Saturday joined City Council Member Eric Ulrich to distribute rain barrels to approximately 120 homeowners in Belle Harbor, Queens.  The 60-gallon rain barrels are easily connected to a home’s downspout where they capture and store the precipitation that falls on the rooftop.  The water collected in the rain barrel can then be used to water lawns and gardens, or for other outdoor chores. Rain barrels can help reduce a homeowner’s water bill as watering lawns and gardens can account for up to 40 percent of an average household’s water use during the summer months.  They also help to reduce the amount of stormwater that enters the City’s sewer system, which helps to mitigate local flooding and protect the health of Jamaica Bay. Since 2008, DEP has distributed more than 2,700 rain barrels. Saturday’s event was held at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club and the rain barrels were provided free of charge.

DEP’s Rain Barrel Giveaway Program is part of New York City’s Green Infrastructure Plan that aims to capture stormwater before it can ever enter the sewer system and thereby reduce combined sewer overflows into local waterways. DEP has committed to invest $2.4 billion in green infrastructure projects as well as other source controls, such as rain barrels, to significantly reduce combined sewer overflows.

The rain barrel program also builds upon DEP’s efforts to conserve water as part of a $1.5 billion initiative to ensure clean, reliable, and safe drinking water for more than nine million New Yorkers for decades to come.  As part of this initiative, DEP has begun a project to repair leaks in the Delaware Aqueduct that supplies roughly half of the city’s daily drinking water.  In order to complete these repairs to the Aqueduct, the tunnel must be temporarily shut down between 2020 and 2021.  Ahead of the planned shutdown, DEP aims to reduce citywide water consumption by five percent.

To further reduce the use of water in residential properties, DEP recently initiated a $23 million High Efficiency Toilet Replacement Program that will replace inefficient toilets in select residential properties across the five boroughs and save 10 million gallons of water each day.  In addition to encouraging homeowners to conserve water, DEP is installing activation buttons on spray showers at 400 City playgrounds that will save 1.5 million gallons of water a day during the summer months.  DEP is also installing new, high efficiency fixtures in the bathrooms of 500 City schools to reduce water consumption by nearly 4 million gallons each school day.  And, in the first public/private partnership, the Hotel Association of New York City has partnered with DEP to reduce water use at some of its premier hotels by five percent annually.

Installation of rain barrels is easy and they require little maintenance. Each homeowner who received a rain barrel on Saturday was provided with an installation kit and instructions.  Rain barrels should only be used for non-potable purposes, such as gardening, and must be disconnected from the downspout during the winter months to avoid freezing.

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 8.4 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 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 at, or follow us on Twitter at

More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

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

(718) 595-6600