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The New York City Department of Environmental Protection or DEP for short is a government run department. The main purpose of this department is to manage the water supply of New York City.
The Department of Environmental Protection was founded back in the 1900s. Today, it has over 6000 employees and a whopping budget of about USD 1.3 Billion. Under this budget, the DEP provides about 1.1 billion gallons of water to the entire populace of New York City, consisting of nearly 9 million residents in total.
This is done through a wide-ranging network of tunnels, three controlled lakes, nineteen reservoirs, aqueducts as well as water mains that span for approximately 6000 miles. Also, all of these components work alongside the 2000 square mile watershed, which spreads approximately 125 miles North and West of New York City.
Furthermore, there are over 140,000 catch basins, 90,000 valves, 68 groundwater wells, 114,000 hydrants, three reservoirs, and 14 gatehouses. There is also a whopping 100 million gallon tank for underground storage purposes as well as 7000 miles worth of sanitary sewers.
The maintenance of this complex network lies under the Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Water and Sewer Operations, i.e., BWSO. To put it simply, the BWSO is responsible for operating, maintaining as well as preserving the water supply of the city and the sewer systems that are used for the collection of wastewater.
Also, they are in charge of testing and inspecting the water and sewer system regularly to exercise proper quality control. These inspections are carried out by professional contractors and plumbers. This also gives the Bureau the jurisdiction over all construction projects that are underway in the city, if they affect the water supply or sewer systems.
Moreover, the DEP is also in charge of dealing with New York’s combined sewer system. They carry off both sanitary waste as well as stormwater runoff. This can largely be owed to the 14 treatment plants that are situated throughout NYC, and are responsible for treating wastewater specifically.
The DEP rules and regulations have been streamlined by the Clean Water Act. They are responsible for handling emergencies about hazardous materials and cleaning up toxic waste sites. Also, they oversee the monitoring and removal of asbestos in the city. They are responsible for enforcing laws regarding noise and air pollution and collecting utility bills about water and sewage account services. Last but not least, the DEP oversees any environmental and water conservation programs and campaigns that may be carried out throughout the city.
New York Engineers offers professional consultation on DEP applications, approvals and permits. We help you file applications and take care of everything from gathering information to submitting the forms to DEP. Our engineers and architects create DEP-compliant designs to help you get speedy approvals without any delays.
Services Provided By the DEP
The Dept. of Environmental Protection operates three different water supply systems that are mentioned below. In total, the three systems are responsible for distributing about 1.1 billion gallons of water to both New York City residents and people residing upstate daily.
The department is diligent when it comes to checking reservoir levels. There is an around the clock forecasting system in place for forecasting and keeping reservoir levels in check. This comes as an added challenge in regulating the water supply to the city.
The Croton System, otherwise dubbed as the New Croton Reservoir, is situated in Westchester County. The reservoir is about 9 miles in length and has a total capacity of 19 Billion gallons. It lies about 22 miles towards the North of NYC. This reservoir collects all the water that comes in from the various reservoirs present in the Croton watershed.
The reservoir was first constructed in 1842. This was done by constructing a dam on the Croton River, where the water was directed away from the Hudson River as well. Often referred to as Croton River, this reservoir was one of the first systems to be used for supplying water outside New York’s city limits.
The Delaware system or the Delaware aqueduct was constructed somewhere in the early to mid-1940s. The Delaware aqueduct with almost 85 miles in length and 13.5 feet in width is recognized as the world’s longest tunnel. It collects water from various reservoirs including Cannonsville, Rondout, Neversink, and the Pepacton.
The water is collected off the west bank of River Hudson via the Chelsea Pumping Station. It then goes through the West Branch, Kensico, and Hillview reservoirs on the East Bank and finally ends up in Hillview at Yonkers.
The Catskill system or Catskill aqueduct was constructed in 1916, although construction first began way back in 1907. Even afterward, it wasn’t until 1924 that the entire Catskill system was materialized with 67 shafts and three dams in total.
The aqueduct is about 163 miles in length, while the shafts vary in depth ranging from 147 to 1,187 feet deep. The aqueduct consists of a pressure tunnel, grade tunnel, several miles of steel siphon and conduit. The aqueduct has a total capacity of about 550 million gallons of water.
The Catskill Aqueduct collects water from the Catskill Mountains and directs it to other parts of the water supply system. In total, it makes up for more than one-third of the water supply in New York.
2. Treatment of Waste Water
New York’s wastewater is collected through a network of above ground and underground tunnels and pipes. This network spans over approximately 7400 miles. Owing to the 14 wastewater treatment plants in the city, about 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater is treated daily. Also, there are almost a hundred wastewater pumping stations, 490 sewage regulators, and eight dewatering facilities that are responsible for regulating wastewater.
The Dept. of Environmental Protection, although most known for its water supply and sewage management services, is also responsible for regulating and preserving air quality. Even though air quality has improved considerably over the years, there are still several threats to air pollution in New York City.
To remedy this, DEP has partnered with Aeroqual. This is a van mounted system which can monitor air quality while staying on a strict budget as sanctioned by the DEP. The reason this system works well is its mobility because the van can efficiently move from location to location to carry out the monitoring services.
Campaigns and Initiatives by DEP
In addition to providing clean water and sewage services, the DEP also heads several initiatives and campaigns for the betterment of the residents of New York, a few of these are as follows:
Rain Barrels are designed to collect natural rainwater that can contribute to residents’ water needs. This plays a part in helping conserve water while lowering utility costs as well. The barrels can be connected directly to terrace gutters and downspouts so that they can collect the rainwater that falls off of your roof.
The rainwater is ideal for performing outdoor chores such as watering the lawn, doing laundry, or washing cars. With the rain barrel giveaway program, residents can get rain barrels free of cost, and also get a free installation kit as well as for instructions to set it up.
Water is a necessity no matter where you go or what you are doing. The department of environmental protection has taken special care to install on the go water fountains that supply clean drinking water around the block.
These fountains all situated throughout the city to provide more convenience to the city’s residents. On top of it all, the water supply is free of charge and can be availed by anyone in the event of need. You can even fill up a water bottle and take it to go in case you need to.
3. ‘Trash It. Don’t Flush It.’
To encourage better waste disposable, the DEP has launched a new initiative to promote waste management. They have coined the term ‘fatbergs,’ i.e., fats and icebergs.
These fatbergs refer to the huge congealed masses of grease and remnants of hygiene products (i.e., sanitary napkins, and wet wipes) that have been flushed down the toilet. These make it very hard to treat sewage, and it ends up being a costly process.
Therefore, the DEP encourages resident to use trash bags to dispose of these products, even the waste disposal in your kitchen is highly discouraged for greasy items.
Rain gardens, as evident by the name, are gardens that solely depend on rainwater for growth and nourishment. These add to the beauty of the city and make good use of the natural resource that is rainwater.
Becoming a rainwater steward entails taking care of, and tending to these gardens. If a resident of NYC notices rain gardens around their area and is interested in helping out with them, then they can contact the DEP directly. After that, they get in touch with the residents and even train them depending on your interest level and experience related to garden tending. Then, NYC’s residents can also play a part in helping the rain gardens thrive.
Lead exposure during childhood is fairly preventive and can cause severe damage to children. Although there has been a marked decrease in lead exposure to children in NYC, there are still some risks. The DEP has developed the initiative dubbed as ‘LeadFreeNYC’ in collaboration with the Senior Advisor for Citywide Lead Prevention to combat these risks. The initiative entails improving up existing rules and regulations regarding the prevention of lead exposure.
How Can New York Engineers Help?
There are other services that can be carried out using DEP’s website. These have been developed to facilitate the residents of the city when it comes to certain chores such as bill paying or filing complaints on issues related to water, air, or noise obstructions. We can help you with all services listed by DEP to save your effort and time.
Utility bills for water and sewage services are usually deduced by looking into the amount of water used up between the present and last meter reading that occurred on a property. We contact the customer service department of the DEP to schedule the installation of a new Automated Meter Reading Device (AMR). They even take care of any repair and maintenance services about the device.
The bills are typically calculated peruse of hundred cubic foot units. The rates themselves are set up by the New York City Water Board. There is also a Multi-family Conservation Program through residents have to pay annually. We can pay the bill in person, online, or even via email. You may use their credit or debit cards such as American Express, Visa, and MasterCard.
2. Reports Regarding Air, Noise, and Water Complaints
Another facility offered by the Dept. of Environmental Protection is the facility that any resident can contact them via the customer service helpline and email to lodge any sort of complaints. These complaints are typically about any obstruction related to noise pollution, air, or water issues. They commonly entail issues such as smog, brown water, or any kind of construction noise that may be disrupting life in a residential or commercial area of the city.
We can help you file complaints with DEP to address your concern at the earliest.
We can help you file applications and get approval from DEP for your project. We are experienced in handling laborious paperwork and prepare all documentation for submitting to the DEP. Our engineers can also create DEP-compliant designs so that your project gets quick clearance and approval from the DEP.
Get in touch with our team to know how we can help you with DEP proceedings and programs.