Amendment of Water Emergency Rules
Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments
Statement of Basis and Purpose
Section 1403 of the Charter of the City of New York and Sections 24-337 and 24-346 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York authorize the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) to amend the “Drought Emergency Rules” (15 RCNY Chapter 21) in order to address water shortage emergencies due to circumstances other than natural conditions, such as planned and unplanned infrastructure outages and repairs. The proposed amendments also add, remove, and change certain water use prohibitions during the different stages of water shortage emergencies, to better reflect DEP’s current understanding of City water use. Although the proposed rule does not apply to routine residential water use such as water used for drinking, bathing, or dishwashing, the Department expects that when the restrictions in the proposed rule are implemented during a water shortage emergency, public awareness of the restrictions will lead to decreased residential water use. The new rules include the following important changes and additions:
Restrictions on Water Use for Reasons Other than Hydrological Conditions
The proposed rule addresses the need for DEP to impose water use restrictions whenever there is a water shortage, regardless of whether such shortage is caused by natural hydrological conditions or other circumstances such as planned and unplanned infrastructure outages and repairs.
Amendments to Water Use Restrictions to Reflect Updated Studies
In 2012, DEP completed several studies to better understand water use in the City among different types of users and for different types of land uses. These studies analyzed how water uses vary in residential, commercial, and high-rise buildings, and single-family homes. The studies also analyzed industrial water uses. The revised rules reflect DEP’s updated understanding of the City’s water use.
Amendments to Defined Terms
DEP proposes amending the defined terms to replace “drought emergencies” with “water shortage emergencies,” in order to capture water shortages caused by other, non-drought circumstances, such as planned or unplanned infrastructure outages. DEP also proposes to include additional terms related to golf courses and to clarify other existing terms.
Clarifications to Exemptions from Water Use Restrictions
The proposed amendments clarify when one can apply for an exemption from the rules restricting water use, as well as the process for applying for the exemption.
Clarifications to Setting a Water Shortage Rate
The proposed amendments authorize the Commissioner to request and recommend that the New York City Water Board set a water shortage rate in advance of a water shortage emergency, which can be implemented during a water shortage emergency. A water shortage rate is the increased rate in effect during a water shortage emergency to encourage water conservation.
Amendments to Signage Requirements
The proposed rule clarifies and broadens the categories of residential units required to display signs during Stage II and Stage III water shortage emergencies.
Changes and Restrictions for Certain Activities and Specific High Volume Users
The rule establishes new percentages by which water use must drop for certain activities during different stages of a water shortage emergency. The new requirements apply to nurseries, golf course tee boxes and greens, playgrounds, athletic playfields, and certain bottling plants, paper recycling facilities, and hotels.