News Feature | January 31, 2018

NYC To Spend $1 Billion On Water

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

What will a $1 billion infusion mean for New York City’s water system?

The city has committed the money to water infrastructure as part of a “far-reaching 115-page agreement” with state health regulators, The New York Times reported. The deal will help ensure that New York City remains “one of the few cities in the country that can provide nearly all of its tap water without being forced to rely on expensive filtration plants.”

New York City’s decision to avoid reliance on water filtration plants sets it apart from most cities. Other cities avoiding filtration plants include Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, OR, The Times reported.

“New York has spent more than $1.7 billion to protect this unfiltered water supply since the early 1990s, in return for being granted a succession of federal and state waivers exempting it from costly filtration requirements,” The New York Times reported.

In large part, the additional spending will allow New York to keep its water unfiltered.

“The city’s new $1 billion investment in the drinking water system will be used to reinforce and expand a host of programs that protect the one million acres of watershed land surrounding the reservoirs that supply the unfiltered drinking water,” The New York Times reported.

“The biggest chunk, or $200 million, will be used to maintain and upgrade dozens of wastewater treatment plants. Ensuring the adequate collection and treatment of wastewater, including sewage, is crucial because that wastewater is cleaned and released back into the environment and eventually reaches the rivers and streams that feed the reservoirs,” the report continued.

In addition, $180 million will be devoted to reducing pollution from farms, $150 will address erosion, $96 million is allocated for land preservation, and $85 million is to clean up septic systems, the report said.

Water infrastructure is a growing challenge in New York City, and residents are hardly unfamiliar with difficulties within their water system. In 2013 alone, there were 403 water main breaks across the city, according to the Center for an Urban Future's Adam Forman in testimony provided to the city council.