Climate Resiliency

Recent storms, including Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in 2011, demonstrate that the city’s water and wastewater system has vulnerabilities to extreme weather that must be addressed. As a result, we’ve initated several studies that examine the potential impact of climate change on our infrastructure and determine resiliency measures to help prevent future disruptions.

One New York City: One Water

Climate change will affect water resources in New York City from the upstate watershed to New York Harbor. It will demand an innovative response by the City’s water managers, planners, and regulators to meet stringent water quality standard requirements under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act while advancing the City’s sustainability and resiliency objectives. As the largest municipal water utility in the United States, in a city with 520 miles of at-risk coastline and approximately 2,000 square miles of watershed protecting drinking water, we must find new ways to maximize our investments by incorporating the latest climate science, affordability, population and water demand projections, tightening regulations, and associated uncertainty.

Download One New York City: One Water

A Stronger, More Resilient New York

A Stronger, More Resilient New York is a comprehensive plan that contains actionable recommendations both for rebuilding the communities impacted by Sandy and increasing the resilience of infrastructure and buildings citywide.

Read about A Stronger, More Resilient New York

Cloudburst Planning

Heavy rain and other extreme weather events are increasing in New York City and globally and are projected to increase with climate change. Urban areas often face similar challenges and can benefit from exchanging best practices related to managing issues like intense rainfall and sea level rise.

We partnered up with the City of Copenhagen’s Technical and Environmental Administration to share knowledge on innovative solutions that can prepare us for heavier and more frequent downpours or “cloudbursts” brought about by climate change. As part of this collaboration, we initiated a study to assess risks, prioritize response, develop neighborhood-based solutions, and assign costs and benefits for managing cloudbursts. The study used the approach developed in the City of Copenhagen’s 2012 Cloudburst Management Plan and applied it to Southeast Queens.

As a result of the cloudburst study, we’re now testing the implementation of cloudburst infrastructure at the NYC Housing Authority’s South Jamaica Houses. Download the South Jamaica Houses Cloudburst Master Plan 2018 for more information.

To learn more about NYC’s approach to cloudburst management view our Urban Stormwater Management in NYC Story Map.

Water-Energy Nexus

Using 2005 data as a baseline, New York City has set the ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% by the year 2050. Operation and maintenance of DEP’s water supply, stormwater, and wastewater management facilities currently account for 18% of total NYC government emissions. To reduce our carbon footprint, DEP’s sustainability teams have been proactive in tracking and identifying opportunities that offset GHG emissions and/or optimize indirect energy co-benefits.

The Water-Energy Nexus is a study that quantifies the impact of our watershed protection, green infrastructure, water demand management and conservation, and wetland restoration programs on DEP’s overall GHG portfolio. Examining these sustainability initiatives through the Water-Energy Nexus helps to demonstrate which program can provide the greatest GHG and energy reductions.

The Water-Energy Nexus Tool

At the sewershed level, the Water-Energy Nexus Tool considers the energy saved as a result of less demand on our water supply and wastewater treatment systems due to a reduction in water consumption from leak detection and repair, and fixture replacement programs. It also considers the decrease in energy requirements for maintaining and operating our wastewater treatment system because of rain gardens, green roofs and other strategies that capture stormwater before it enters the sewer system. Finally, the study calculates the benefits of carbon sequestration as well as the potential costs of added methane (methanogenesis) for the added vegetation from our green infrastructure and wetland restoration programs.

Water energy nexus results
Total GHG reductions associated with DEP’s watershed protection, green infrastructure, water efficiency, and wetland restoration programs.

Wastewater Resiliency Plan