New York protecting its most valuable natural resource

New York City has launched its One New York plan for a strong and just city in terms of social, economic and environmental equity. As part of the plan New York aims to be the most sustainable big city in the world and a global leader in the fight against climate change. To achieve this aspiration, the city will:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels
  • Reduce waste disposal by 90% in 2030 compared to 2005 levels
  • Have the best air quality among all large U.S. cities by 2030
  • Clean up all contaminated land mainly located in lower-income level communities
  • Ensure all New Yorker’s can enjoy useful, accessible and beautiful open spaces
  • Mitigate neighbourhood flooding and offer-high quality water services.
New York managing its water sustainably

New York managing its water sustainably

Protecting the city’s most valuable natural resource – water 

Water is one of the city’s most precious natural resource and must be valued and managed wisely to ensure water for all activities and public health. The city’s Department of Environment Protection (DEP) provides New York City with water from the largest unfiltered water supply in the world, delivering one billion gallons of high quality drinking water each day to nine million New Yorkers. To ensure the city’s water resources are preserved from contamination, the risks of aging infrastructure and the impacts of climate change One New York has set up four initiatives to protect their precious resource.

Initiative one – protect the city’s water supply

New York City will initiate a grant programme up to $1 million per year through 2020 to encourage onsite water reuse on private properties. Potential applications include greywater, blackwater and rainwater reuse in non-potable water processes for example toilet flushing, cooling towers and irrigation – all of which contributes towards the city’s broader water demand management efforts.

Initiative two – install or repair 500 water fountains

To encourage proper hydration and healthy water consumption the DEP will commit $5 million over the next 10 years towards the goal of increasing water bottle filling fountains and stations to eliminate water drought and reduce single use plastic bottles across the city. To promote the new water fountains the city will conduct a multi-media marketing campaign including a phone app that helps residents and visitors find water fountains and stations around the city.

Initiative three – expand green infrastructure for stormwater management

The DEP will work with partner agencies to institutionalize stormwater management into the design of public property including streets, parks, schoolyards and public housing. The city will also continue its programme of installing 9,000 curbside garden bioswales by 2018 in areas served by the combined sewer system.

Intiative four – reduce pollution from stormwater runoff

The DEP is developing a plan to address pollution from its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) to improve water quality. The plan will include adopting measures for public outreach and involvement, finding and eliminating illicit sewer connections, managing stormwater during and after construction, managing industrial/commercial stormwater sources, and controlling trash – the city will conduct a study to identify sources of trash carried into waterways by stormwater. The city will also launch a city-wide media campaign on what not to put down stormwater drains.

The take-out

To achieve a water-secure future, New York is using financial incentives, public agency partnerships as well as public education to manage the city’s water resources sustainably and increase resilience to climate change.

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Author: Robert C. Brears

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  1. Having bombastic objectives is nice but these are empty words unless someone puts behind them the methodology (hopefully both technically and financially feasible) to achieve the goals. Show us realistically how to reduce GHG, waste and air pollution. Indicate the technological proven means to achieve the % stated, the required timeframe and its financial cost. It would also be interesting to indicate from where the money will come.

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