As water utilities across the nation—and around the world—grapple with the consequences of climate change, we must continue to identify opportunities to ensure the resiliency and reliability of our water supply system.
Reducing water demand benefits our water supply system and New York City at large by increasing flexibility in our operations, reducing our energy footprint and greenhouse gas emissions (from treating less drinking water and wastewater), and keeping water bills affordable.
For information on how to make your home, hotel or restaurant more water efficient, visit Water Saving Tips.
Use our interactive Water Demand Management Story Map to visualize the scope and impact of our citywide water savings programs.
One Water NYC: Water Demand Management Plan
The Water Demand Management Plan identifies six key strategies for managing water demand in New York City, and details specific initiatives to be implemented between now and 2022 in order to achieve targeted water demand reductions.
NYC Water Challenges for Non-Residential Sectors
Commercial and non-residential buildings account for a significant proportion of citywide water demand. In order to maximize water savings, we are tapping into water saving opportunities through partnerships with the private sector.
The New York City Water Challenges are voluntary programs that encourage different sectors across the City to reduce water consumption by at least 5%. Participants are asked to calculate baseline water consumption, track water usage in their facilities for 12 to 24 months, develop water conservation plans, and attend meetings with DEP to discuss their progress. Challenge participants receive formal recognition from DEP for their efforts. DEP completed the Water Challenge to Hotels in 2014, the Water Challenge to Restaurants in 2015, and the Water Challenge to Hospitals in 2018, and the Water Challenge to Universities in 2020.
For more information about saving water, visit Water Saving Tips.
Municipal Water Efficiency Program
The Municipal Water Efficiency Program provides funding for water demand reduction projects in City-owned facilities. Under this program, DEP has completed over 35,000 fixture retrofits and upgrades in over 450 City facilities with interagency partners including the Department of Education, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the New York City Fire Department, and the City University of New York, Health and Hospitals Corporation, and the Department of Cultural Affairs—Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
DEP has also evaluated its own wastewater treatment plants for water conservation opportunities and launched an annual water conservation challenge for treatment plant operators to implement best practices and monitor potable water use reductions, which has been completed at all 14 facilities. DEP is expanding established partnerships with the Department of Education, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Health and Hospitals Corporation, and is moving forward with new projects and partnerships, including the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.
Local Law 86 of 2005 mandates that newly-constructed buildings or substantial reconstruction of buildings that use City funding achieve certain efficiency standards and requirements, including a LEED rating and a reduction in potable water use. These regulations ensure that new public facilities are efficient, but this program also works to enhance water efficiency in the City’s existing building stock.
Water Conservation and Reuse Grants
To incentivize water savings on private property, we have grants for water efficiency projects at commercial, industrial and multi-family residential properties that include conventional fixture retrofits and/or innovative water saving technologies, such as on-site water reuse.
Learn more about the Water Conservation and Reuse Grants.
Repairing Leaks in the Water System
DEP has a large service area with 7,000 miles of pipes that distribute water to end users. As water travels through these underground pipes, undetected leaks can occur, and therefore constant maintenance, leak detection, and metering optimization is key to efficient management of water supply. DEP has a system of pressure management zones that are crucial for properly operating the system. Pressure management can help reduce leaks by reducing the amount and severity of water main breaks.
Old and under-registering meters present the next challenge, as under-registration can result in inaccurate measurement of water use. Every year, DEP replaces thousands of older meters, particularly larger meters, to limit this problem. Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) infrastructure now covers over 97 percent of DEP’s customer base, which decreases accounting errors by producing actual readings rather than estimates, and provides a more accurate depiction of water use across the city.
DEP also provides data access to customers at a more granular level than in the past through the My DEP Account, which allows customers to actively monitor their own use. This improved access to information provides customers with the opportunity to address leaks and proactively increase water efficiency in their homes.
Preparing for Droughts
Over the past 75 years, New York City has experienced nine drought periods of record, the most severe of which occurred prior to the 1980s.
Beyond infrastructure upgrades and programs that promote near-term savings, DEP has revised its drought management rules, now known as the Water Shortage Rules, to properly manage its water supply in the event of water shortage during infrastructure repairs, or droughts.
Wholesale Customers Water Demand Management Program
DEP developed a water demand management planning program to assist its 10 of its largest customers to reduce water consumption by a minimum of 5% from the baseline water usage recorded in calendar year 2013, and maintaining such lower water demand levels thereafter. These 10 wholesale customers north of New York City consume over nine percent of the water distributed by the New York City Water Supply System. Implementing water saving measures aimed at reducing demand by 5% in these combined 10 customers could save approximately 4.6 MGD.
The Water Demand Management Plan for the Village of Ossining was finalized in May 2016. Ossining began implementing a leak detection and line repair program, as well as a residential indoor upgrade voucher program in 2018.