We’ve had some spring showers during the last week, but while these light rains have been welcome news for our parks, lawns and gardens, New Yorkers shouldn’t be fooled. Our city is still in the middle of the worst drought it has experienced in a decade. Six months of unusually dry weather have left the upstate reservoirs that supply New York City’s water only half full at a time of year when they are normally close to 90 per cent of capacity. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that we’ll get enough rainfall Ro fill those reservoirs before the heavy summertime demand for water begins.
There’s nothing we can do to make it rain, but there’s plenty we can do to conserve water, and fix the leaks and drips that waste our most precious resource. Six weeks ago, I issued a Drought Warning for the city and New Yorkers have responded. We have cut our consumption of water by an average of 30 million gallons per day. That’s a great start, but until the reservoirs begin to fill up again, we’ll all have to keep doing our part to help save water.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has some very practical suggestions to make it simple for New Yorkers to do an even better job of water conservation. Let’s be alert to water leaks in the streets, in our homes and in our places of work. It is important to always report open fire hydrants and other street leaks of water to the DEP, which has set up a 24-hour help hotline expressly for this purpose at DEP-HELP.
An open fire hydrant can waste one million gallons of drinking water per day and reduce potentially life-saving water pressure to fight fires. Preventing water waste is essential to our conservation efforts, but we must also fix leaking faucets in our homes, offices and factories.
While it may seem that a drippy faucet cannot be compared to an open fire hydrant, even a slow leak at your kitchen sink can waste up to a thousand gallons of water a week.
All of us should try to make smarter, more efficient, use of the water we consume in daily activities. Do not run the tap while shaving or brushing your teeth, take shorter showers and fill the bathtub only halfway.
New Yorkers should also only run dishwashers and washing machines when they are full, and use short wash cycles if they are available. Also, don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket; every unnecessary toilet flush can waste up to five gallons of water.
Residents and business owners should always sweep driveways and sidewalks clean rather than hose them down. Additional tips for saving water can be found on DEP’s Web site at: www.nyc.gov/dep.
It’s a good time to invest in water-saving showerheads, toilets and faucets. Such devices will not only cut down on your water use; they will also significantly cut your water bills. The DEP offers free on-site surveys for businesses and homeowners that want to further cut their water usage. If you would like to arrange for a survey, call the same 24-hour hotline: DEP-HELP.
New Yorkers enjoy one of the world’s best water supply systems. It provides nearly 1.2 billion gallons of water a day to 9 million people in and around New York City. Our supply of water is pure, reliable and, generally speaking, extremely plentiful. However, in the current conditions, it would be enormously irresponsible, and potentially dangerous, to take our water for granted. Please begin taking your own steps to help New York City’s water conservation efforts today.