Proposal to repeal Conservation of Water Rule (Chapter 11 to Title 24 of the RCNY)

Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments

Comment By: 
Friday, October 20, 2017
Download Copy of Proposed Rule (.pdf): 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule


      Chapter 11 of Title 24 of the New York City Rules applies to food service establishments and other businesses that operate pursuant to licenses and permits issued by the Department.  To conserve water, it prohibits these businesses from serving water, unless requested by a customer, and commands that they immediately repair leaks, drips, seepages and other losses of water.  The chapter establishes a penalty of $500 for a violation of its rules and provides that repeated wastes of water can result in the business being closed.    

      Chapter 11 is not actively enforced by the Department. It does not issue violations to businesses for having leaky sinks, or seek to determine whether water it observes flowing “is in actual and immediate use in the conduct of the permittee’s business….”  Nor is Chapter 11 needed.  Pursuant to federal and state law, fixtures now used must meet certain flow requirements.[1]  Businesses pay for water and, thus, have a financial interest in fixing dripping and linking faucets and toilets.  Larger leaks can be addressed by the City’s Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to Administrative Code section 24-316.  In times of drought, the City has other rules that limit consumption and the Commissioner or Board of Health could through their nuisance authorities direct in such times that leaks and other seepages be immediately repaired and that restaurants stop freely serving water.  

     Absent such conditions, water should be readily served.  The Department encourages New Yorkers to consume tap water as a healthier drinking option.[2]  To the extent that Chapter 11 prohibits businesses from offering water unless specifically requested, it is inconsistent with this encouragement.  Studies suggest that making heathier beverages, like water, more convenient increases their selection.[3][4][5] Freely providing water may thus lead to it being chosen over less healthy choices. 

     Working with the City’s rulemaking agencies, the Law Department, and OMB, the Office of Operations conducted a retrospective rules review of the City’s existing rules, identifying those rules that will be repealed or modified to reduce regulatory burdens, increase equity, support small businesses, and simplify and update content to help support public understanding and compliance. Chapter 11 was identified as a chapter of rules that should be repealed through this initiative.

     The Department’s authority for this repeal is found in section 1043 of the New York City Charter. Because the Department is not required to provide waivers under the CIAA, there is no reason to have public testimony on whether this rule should be repealed.  

[1] ECL section 15-0314 and 10 CRF Part 430.


[3] Thorndike AN, Riis J, Sonnenberg LM, Levy ED.  Traffic-light labels and choice architecture: promoting healthy food choices.  AJPM 2014; 46)2_143-9.

[4] Thorndike AN, Sonnenberg L, Riis J, Barraclough S, Levy DE. A 2-phase labeling and choice architecture intervention to improve healthy food and beverage choices. AJPH 2012; 102(3): 527–33.

[5] Eibel B, Mijanovich T, Abrams C, Dunn L, Nonas C, Cappola K, Onufrak S, Park S. A water availability intervention in the New York City public schools: influence on youths’ water and milk behaviors. AJPH 2015; 105(2): 365-72.



Public Hearing

Proposal to repeal Conservation of Water Rule - Chapter 11 to Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York. The Department has determined that there is no public purpose to holding a hearing.

Public Hearing Date: 
Friday, October 20, 2017 - 5:00pm

Svetlana Burdeynik, (347) 396-6078,

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Gotham Center
42-09 28th Street,14th Floor, CN31
Queens, NY 11101