A goal of the capital investment in the City’s Water & Sewer System is to maintain the quality of water in the City’s watersheds and where necessary, treat the supply to ensure its high quality and compliance with federal and state water quality standards, maintain and improve the transmission and distribution capacity, and improve the condition of the City’s water supply system. This ensures the sustainability of the City’s drinking water so citizens will have continued access to high quality drinking water.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection implements a comprehensive Long-Term Watershed Protection Program which maintains and protects the high quality source of drinking water for consumers.
Effective water demand management strategies are critical to the sustainable management of our water supply for future generations. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has prioritized optimization of the City’s water distribution network by exploring expansion of its leak detection program, launching a service line protection program, pursuing full build-out of water meter and Automated Meter Reading technology, replacing large water meters on industry recommended cycles, and monitoring system pressure zones.
The City is leading by example to reduce the demand on our drinking water supply by directing funding toward retrofit programs that will conserve water at parks, schools, and other public buildings across the city. With a large-scale repair project in the pipeline and a vast network of aging infrastructure to maintain in a state of good repair, DEP remains focused on cost-effective approaches to sustainable water demand management while providing clean, safe, and reliable drinking water to all New Yorkers.
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. To prepare for the future, The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began implementing climate change resiliency measures in 2008 with the Climate Change Program Assessment and Action Plan. Prior to Sandy, DEP was already in the process of performing a detailed climate change study for representative wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations, and drainage areas to determine the potential likelihood and severity of various risks, including storm surge. After Sandy, DEP expanded that study to include all wastewater infrastructure across the city to systematically determine risks and resiliency measures to help prevent future disruptions.
NYW bonds finance projects to improve the quality and the surrounding waters of New York City by upgrading the City’s wastewater treatment facilities, reducing pollution caused by combined sewer overflows, maintaining and improving the condition of the sewer system, replacing failing sewers, and extending service to underserved areas of the City. New York City’s 14 wastewater treatment plants together treat 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater daily. The system combines sanitary flow, created each time a New Yorker turns on a tap, runs a washing machine, or flushes a toilet and whenever runoff enters our sewers during rain or snow. This complex system quietly does a job we simply can’t live without.
New York Harbor is making a comeback and the signs are all around. According to the City's most recent Harbor Survey Report, the Harbor is cleaner now than at any time in the last 100 years. Continued improvements to sewage handling and treatment are chiefly responsible for continued improvements to water quality, which have led to increased recreational opportunities such as swimming and fishing.
Storm water generated from rain and melting snow is conveyed over impervious surfaces such as rooftops, streets, and sidewalks. Rather than being absorbed into the ground, much of the stormwater in New York City flows over into roof drains or catch basins in the streets and from there, into the sewers. These impervious surfaces cover approximately 72% of New York City’s 305 square miles in land area. Stormwater can pose challenges to the City by triggering combined sewer overflows, washing pollutants into our waters through the separate storm sewer system, and causing flooding.
The Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) innovative Green Infrastructure Program is helping to prevent combined sewer overflow. New York City’s Green Infrastructure Program is a multiagency effort led by DEP. DEP and agency partners design, construct, and maintain a variety of sustainable green infrastructure practices such as green roofs, rain gardens, and Right-of-way Bioswales on City owned property such as streets, sidewalks, schools, and public housing. Green infrastructure promotes the natural movement of water by collecting and managing stormwater runoff from streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and rooftops and directing it to engineered systems that typically feature soils, stones, and vegetation. This process prevents stormwater runoff from entering the City’s sewer systems. DEP is currently building green infrastructure to reduce combined sewer overflow discharges into New York City’s waterbodies. DEP is also exploring the use of green infrastructure to reduce polluted runoff from reaching waterbodies through the separate storm sewer system. In addition to the benefits to water quality, green infrastructure also beautifies City streets and neighborhoods while improving air quality.
The Staten Island Bluebelt is an award winning, ecologically sound and cost-effective storm water management for approximately one third of Staten Island’s land area. The program preserves natural drainage corridors, called Bluebelts, including streams, ponds, and other wetland areas. Preservation of these wetland systems allows them to perform their functions of conveying, storing, and filtering storm water. In addition, the Bluebelts provide important community open spaces and diverse wildlife habitats. The Bluebelt program saves tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure costs when compared to providing conventional storm sewers for the same land area. This program demonstrates how wetland preservation can be economically prudent and environmentally responsible.