Vision 3 Goal

Water Management

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New York City’s water supply system is one of the nation’s most awe-inspiring feats of civil engineering. Most of the City’s water is collected from freshwater streams located on more than 2,000 square miles of remote mountains, lakes, and forests in the Catskill Mountains. Relying almost exclusively on gravity, about 1 billion gallons of unfiltered water is delivered each day to the five boroughs through more than 6,200 miles of aqueducts, tunnels, and water pipes—all while meeting or exceeding federal and state drinking water standards. The City tests drinking water for up to 250 contaminants over 600,000 times annually and continues to make major capital investments to maintain the provision of world-class drinking water far into the future. The City is also investing in wastewater infrastructure and innovative stormwater management tools to reduce neighborhood flooding, improve the cleanliness of our waterways, and achieve more sustainable and carbon-neutral operations.

IndicatorViolations with Safe Drinking Water ActBacklog of catch basin repairsCombined Sewer Overflow capture rate
Latest Data0
violations (2017)
Previous Data0
violations (2016)

Committed $1 billion to protect New York City’s drinking water

The City’s science-based approach to watershed protection has made our program a national and international model for source water protection. In 2017, the NYS Department of Health awarded the DEP with a new ten-year waiver to continue delivering unfiltered drinking water from its Catskill/Delaware water supply. The waiver, known as a Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD), commits the City to investing $1 billion over the next decade in programs that protect our upstate reservoirs and the vast watershed lands that surround them. The FAD allows the City to avoid building a filtration plant for its Catskill and Delaware water supplies, which would have cost the City upwards of $10 billion and hundreds of millions of dollars each year to operate.

Accelerated work to improve the city’s water delivery system

In 2017 DEP finished cleaning, filling, and pressurizing the Brooklyn/Queens leg of City Water Tunnel No. 3, bringing it to a state of activation readiness. Construction for the tunnel began in the early 1990s and DEP initially planned to complete it in the mid-2020s. In Spring 2016, however, Mayor de Blasio directed DEP to prepare this leg of the tunnel so it could quickly be placed into service should a catastrophic natural or manmade emergency arise with City Water Tunnel No. 2, rendering it inoperable.

Completed flooding relief projects in Southeast Queens

In 2015 DEP launched a $1.5 billion program to construct sewers and reduce flooding in Southeast Queens. Approximately $227 million has already been committed. In 2017, DEP completed or made significant progress on a number of projects, including the installation of new catch basins and sewer extensions throughout the St. Albans, Jamaica, South Jamaica, Laurelton, and Rosedale neighborhoods. DEP also launched a feasibility study for a groundwater drainage project aimed at addressing basement flooding in these areas, where the groundwater table has risen over the last two decades and has impacted a number of residential and commercial properties. The study will measure how high the groundwater table has risen, how much it must be lowered in order to mitigate basement flooding, and feasibility of a radial collection plan.

Fostered a cleaner and healthier New York City Harbor

Due in part to the continued expansion of the nation’s most ambitious and aggressive green infrastructure program and ongoing upgrades to the City’s wastewater system, the New York Harbor is cleaner and healthier today than it has been in more than a century. By the end of 2017, nearly 4,000 green infrastructure assets were constructed or are in construction across the city, in addition to other forms of green infrastructure located in City parks, playgrounds, schools, and housing developments. DEP is also investing billions of dollars to upgrade the wastewater collection system to ensure that the maximum amount of wastewater receives treatment during rainfall, while moving forward with plans to construct overflow retention tanks for the Gowanus Canal. In 2017, DEP also completed installation of 40,000 oysters in Jamaica Bay. Oysters filter pollutants from water, help protect wetlands and shoreline from erosion and storm surge, and provide habitats for communities of fish and other aquatic organisms. Through its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program, the DEP also spearheads efforts to reduce pollutants such as floatables, pathogens, and nutrients in stormwater discharges. These improvements have led to increased recreational opportunities for people, ecological advancement for aquatic life, and even a greater presence of whales in our midst.