NYC Drought Restrictions

We've experienced seven droughts in the last 40 years. Our most recent one was in January, 2003. You know the drill, the city says we're in some stage of a drought emergency which means we can't water our lawns or fill our pools except when it's 3am on the 2nd wednesday and a new moon. Seriously though, Gothamist seriously doubts anyone besides the city's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) employees know exactly what the rules are. People simply are a bit more conscious overall (if that). Don't take that 30 minute shower, think twice about whether you should flush after number one, stop running your dishwasher just to clean your favorite 3 glasses. The DEP will be updating the city's drought rules. According to the department Commissioner Christopher O Ward,

“The amended rules are streamlined and simplified, and redundancies and inconsistencies have been eliminated. The new rules will also provide for greater flexibility during various stages of a drought.”

Okay, so Gothamist took a look at the updates which included:

  • In a State One emergency, all paved surfaces may be washed with City water for public health reasons:
  • In a Stage One emergency, newly seeded/planted turf or plants way be watered on the day of planting and for the next two days;
  • In a Stage One emergency, ornamental uses of non-city water are permitted. In a Stage Two emergency, ornamental usage of even non-city water will be allowed if it serves an animal habitat.
  • DEP has the option of placing a flow restrictor on water lines as a sanction for non-compliance with drought rules.

Hmm. Ornamental uses of non-city water are permitted in a stage one emergency? So we can trek over to Jersey and grab some of their water to waste and use to decorate our city. And even in a stage 2 emergency, we can still do that as long as we're using it to decorate an animal habitat? We


hope this would be directed at protecting a habitat of one of our local zoo residents. But still, some of these rules seem a little strange to us. The DEP has a summary of "Water Use Restrictions" in the various stages of drought including, normal conditions. There are stiff penalties for violating any of the rules but many of them we'd imagine are quite hard to enforce. For example, we were unaware it was illegal to sell or install a showerhead using more than 2.5 gallons per minute -- even in non-drought conditions. So much for that new rainforest showerhead we bought online.

Currently, the city is not in any state of drought and the reservoirs are at 90.2%.