2002-03-28 / Top Stories

Mayor Declares Drought Emergency Effective Monday

Mayor Declares Drought Emergency Effective Monday

Citing the critical lack of rainfall over the City’s three reservoir systems, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today declared a Stage 1 Drought Emergency affecting over 8 million residents of New York City and approximately one million Upstate users of City water who live in Westchester, Putnam, Ulster and Orange counties. A Drought Emergency is declared when there is a reasonable probability that, unless stringent measures are implemented to reduce consumption, the City’s reservoirs face the possibility that continued dry periods could cause reservoirs to be severely strained. The restrictions go into effect on Monday, April 1.

Restrictions are enforced by the DEP and the NYPD in New York City and by local authorities in the four Upstate Counties.

"Our city is in the midst of the worst drought it has experienced in a decade," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Six months of unusually dry weather have left upstate reservoirs only half full at a time of year when they are normally at 90 percent of capacity. I am declaring a Stage 1 Drought Emergency at this time because it is highly unlikely that we’ll get enough rainfall to replenish our reservoirs before the heavy summertime demand for water begins."

The water supply system consists of three reservoir systems, - Croton, Catskill and Delaware - which include 19 reservoirs and have a collective storage capacity of 558 billion gallons. In November 2001, after an unusually dry summer, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the City agency responsible for operating and maintaining the city’s water supply, in the face of less than normal reservoir levels, launched a water conservation campaign requesting voluntary conservation. On December 26, a Drought Watch, the first step in the drought declaration process was declared. A Watch is declared when there is less than a 50% probability that the Catskill and Delaware water supply systems—the two largest—would not refill by June 1. As the winter season continued, with critically low levels of precipitation, the City was confronted by the probability that there was a less than 33% chance that the Catskill and Delaware systems would refill by June 1, and Mayor Bloomberg declared a Drought Warning on January 27.

"New Yorkers have heeded our requests for conservation over these past months seriously, and we seen our water use cut by some 30 million gallons a day," said Mayor Bloomberg. "However, voluntary conservation alone can’t make up for the lack of rain fall, therefore we must take more stringent measures to increase protection of the supply and reduce water use."

When a Stage 1 Drought Emergency is declared, mandated prohibitions direct

and restrict the use of water. Prohibited activities include:

•No washing of vehicles

•No washing of sidewalks, driveways or streets

•Watering of lawns is restricted to 7-9 AM and 7-9 PM for even number addresses on even dates and for odd number addresses on odd dates.

•Golf courses may water only tees and greens

•Ornamental fountains must be turned off

•Private swimming pools may be filled during Stage 1 Drought Emergency; however, if the city enters later stages, this is prohibited.

During all stages of a Drought Emergency, "SAVE WATER" signs must be posted in all buildings except residential properties under five units. The signs shall contain the following wording, shall be at least 6"x 9," and the heading "SAVE WATER" shall be at least 3/4" in height.

"New Yorkers enjoy one of the world’s best water supply systems. It is pure, reliable and generally speaking, extremely plentiful. However, under current conditions, we must not take our water for granted. I am asking everyone to play a role until the rains come to our City again. All of us should try to make more efficient use of the water we consume in daily activities," Mayor Bloomberg concluded.

Additional tips for saving water can be found on DEP’s website at www.nyc.gov/dep.

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