2002-11-09 / Community

Drought Emergency Ends, Conservation Necessary

Drought Emergency Ends, Conservation Necessary

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, joined by Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Christopher O. Ward, announced that the above average rainfall in September and October has made up for critical water shortages in the City’s Catskill Delaware reservoirs and that the city is lifting the drought emergency as of November 1. The city has operated under stage 1 drought emergency restriction since April 2002.

"Due to near normal rainfall over the past six months and heavy rainfall in September and October, reservoir storage has climbed to 68.3% of capacity, near normal levels for November 1," said Mayor Bloomberg. "However, the city’s reservoir levels remains dangerously low, and we must continue to conserve water with the same commitment and cooperation we exhibited during the drought emergency. I am also requesting residents and businesses to practice voluntary water conservation even though emergency restrictions are no longer in effect. New Yorkers have saved on average 45 million gallons of water per day since we heightened our conservation measures and they are to be congratulated."

"I want to thank New Yorkers, many of whom took the time to contact us with suggestions for water conservation, for observing the letter of the law and abiding by the mandatory restrictions we had to impose to conserve our water supply," said Commissioner Ward, "Both residents and commercial water users responded positively to our call for voluntary conservation, and as a result water use was reduced significantly from January through October. Our newly acquired water conservation habits need to be continued and become part of our everyday way of life."

On November 7, 2001, New York City reservoirs were at 53% of capacity approximately, 16% percentage points below normal. These low levels were attributed to below average rainfall for the summer and fall 2001. To stave off a drought, New Yorkers were urged to practice voluntary conservation measures. However, on December 27, DEP announced a drought watch for the City’s water supply system.

After an unusually dry January the upstate reservoirs were 35 percent below normal capacity. On January 28, 2002, the city’s water supply system crossed the line from drought watch to drought warning.

During the winter, precipitation continued to be well below normal. On April 1, reservoir level s measured 57.5% nearly 40% below the normal 95.1% for that date. Mayor Bloomberg, declared the city’s first drought emergency, stage 1 for April 1. Unlike the watch and warning, the drought emergency called for mandatory water use restrictions that were punishable by fines and penalties. The last time the city had been in a drought emergency was in 1989.

Water use in New York City is still subject to certain year round restrictions, which will remain in effect. Watering lawns and sidewalks is prohibited between November 1 and March 31. Illegally opening fire hydrants is also a violation of the city’s water rules.

For further information about water conservation, the drought, or the city’s water supply, visit DEP’s web site at www.nyc.gov.dep or call the DEP 24-hour, 7-day a week hotline at (718) DEP-HELP (337-3457).

Some tips on how you can help conserve water:

Water Saving Tips

  1. Report open fire hydrants and street leaks to DEP’s 24-hour help line. An open hydrant can waste one million gallons of drinking water per day.
  2. Take advantage of DEP’s free water survey to help save water and cut water bills in residential and commercial buildings. To apply city residents can call DEP.
  3. Take shorter showers or fill the tub only halfway and save water.
  4. Don’t run the tap while shaving or brushing your teeth.
  5. Fix leaks. Leaky faucets alone can waste up to 1,000 gallons each week.
  6. Run the dishwasher and washing machines only when full. Use short cycles if available.
  7. Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket.
  8. Install water-saving fixtures including toilets, showerheads and faucet aerators.
  9. Sweep driveways and sidewalks clean rather than washing them down with a hose.
  10. For more water saving ideas visit DEP’s web site.

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