We interface with the Department of Environmental Protection and the various utility companies to provide our clients with new domestic water services.
Our professional engineers design and prepare filings for new water services. We offer a flat rate and can guarantee the fastest turnaround times in New York City.
We design energy-efficient water systems that will ultimately minimize costs by delivering water with an optimum flow rate and the right pressure
What The Codes Say
The various plumbing codes including the NYC Plumbing Code 2014 and the New York State (NYS) Plumbing Codethat is based on the International Plumbing Code 2015 (IPC 2015) have comprehensive regulations regarding water supply and distribution. These govern the materials as well as the design and installation of hot and cold water supply systems for human habitation and occupancy.
Water supply to plumbing fixtures that are designed to provide water for drinking, for culinary purposes or food processing, or bathing, or for the processing of pharmaceutical and/or medical products, must be potable.
If a potable public water supply isn’t available individual sources may be utilized. So-called individual water supplies, including wells, may only be installed with the approval of the City’s Commissioner of Buildings, The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which provides most of NYC’s residents with clean, safe water, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The NYS Code specifies that a well driller registered with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation be used. Additionally, water quality must be approved as potable in accordance with the NYS Department of Health regulations. Existing bodies of water may only be used (with the relevant permission) if they are properly treated to prevent contamination.
There are also regulations that apply to water-based fire protection systems that are connected to the NYC main, including sprinkler systems. A local law (Local Law 26) introduced in 2004 requires that all buildings 100 feet or higher that are classified as business occupancies must have automatic fire sprinklers systems no later than July 1, 2019. There are different types of sprinkler systems, not all of which utilize water.
Potable Water Requirements
Potable water supply systems must be designed, installed, and maintained so there is zero contamination from non-potable liquids, gases, and solids via any pipes or cross connections. For this reason, backflow preventers (see Backflow Preventers below) are mandatory in all NYC buildings to ensure that water from buildings doesn’t flow back into the City’s underground water mains.
Similarly, it is essential that water service piping and building sewer piping are horizontally separated by at least five feet of compacted or undisturbed earth. There are certain exceptions with additional specifications. If water services are near sources of pollution like septic tanks, seepage pits, or cesspools, they have to be separated by at least ten feet.
There are also detailed specifications for connections to the City’s water mains in accordance with the DEP rules. While the costs of connections must be paid by the owner, corporation stops and all other connections may only be made by DEP employees. A separate tap must be installed for every building that fronts on a street. Each building must also have its own supply service.
Another very important specification in the NYC Plumbing Code relates to the disinfection of new potable water systems. This must be done before the system is used:
Applying for Water
NYC’s water supply system is complex and extensive with three watersheds that contain 19 reservoirs, and three controlled lakes with aqueducts, tunnels, and pumping stations. Under the jurisdiction of the NYC DEP, the application for a new water service is submitted to the City’s DEP. Installation of new water services may also be available from Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA), Central New York’s Water Authority.
NYC Environmental Protection has a simple registration form for property owners requiring water service that affirms ownership of the property and acknowledges that the property owner is liable for both water and sewer bills. The address of the property and address for billing must be provided.
The DEP requires that the property has an automated meter reading (AMR) device (see below) installed. This enables property owners to create their DEP account.
OCWA charges a connection fee which initiates the new water service. Applications are only accepted if there is an existing main connection in a public street alongside the property. If there isn’t an adequate main, or if the water flow is inadequate, the Authority will usually extend the mains.
Applications for a new water service must be accompanied by any necessary payments and a stake must be placed where the property owner wants the service to enter the property. Once this location has been approved by OCWA, your contractor can install the service from building to the property line in accordance with the Authority’s rules and regulations. Once this part of the service has been installed we contact OCWA to schedule their portion of the service.
The last step is the installation of a water meter.
Meters & AMR
Water meters were first introduced by the New York City Council in 1985 in a local law that now requires all new buildings and properties that have been “substantially renovated” to have water meters installed. The plan, called Universal Metering, was motivated by the need to conserve water and has resulted in the City having ample supplies to meet its needs.
All residential, commercial, industrial, and mixed-use properties are now required, by law, to have water meters.
Water meters are relatively simple mechanical devices that work in the same way. The actual measurement device is located in an inner chamber and it is calibrated so that the amount of water passing through the meter can be measured in tenths of cub feet for one-, two-, and three-family homes. This volume of water is approximately the same as ¾ of a gallon of water.
NYC’s DEP now uses automated meter reading (AMR) to increase the accuracy of billing and to improve functionality. The system comprises small, low-power radio transmitters that are connected to all water meters. These send readings to a network of rooftop-mounted receivers around the city every day. Ultimately, the system eliminates the need for personnel to visit individual properties in person to read the water meter. However, if you want to read your own water meter to check your water usage, you can.
If there isn’t an AMR in buildings that fall under the jurisdiction of the NYC DEP, it is the responsibility of property owners to install a meter at their own expense. It is also the owner’s responsibility to protect the meter and ensure that it isn’t damaged by inclement weather or because of negligence. If it is moved illegally, the owner will usually be held liable to pay for the replacement of the meter.
The DEP is responsible for reading meters and charging and collecting fees for water as well as for sewer usage.
OCWA allows plumbers to install meter pits, or they will do the installation for a fee.
Charges and Bills
Once you have your DEP account, it’s easy to view, manage, and pay water bills, as well as sewer bills. It is also simple to track water usage. Additional services they offer include online leak notifications and monthly eBilling.
The rates charged for water are set by the NYC Water Board and the money collected funds all the DEP’s capital costs and operating needs. This includes employee salaries and benefits as well as water infrastructure costs.
Water meters on small buildings (under five-family buildings) are read every four hours by the AMR device, but bills are only generated once every three months for most of DEP customers. It is common for larger residential properties to be enrolled in the Multi-family Conservation Program (MCP) which is designed to encourage conservation and has a flat, annual charge for each unit rather than a fee for metered usage.
If for some reason the DEP can’t get a meter reading, they usually send estimated bills. You can verify the estimate by doing an actual reading on your meter. You can challenge it if you disagree.
The DEP accepts electronic payments and if customers cannot pay their bills in full, they accept partial payments. They do, though, charge late payment charges which is currently 7% per annum, billed monthly on the unpaid balance.
The DEP website has comprehensive information that will help you conserve water and manage consumption. Tips about water-saving appliances and avoiding leaks are also provided.
Backflow of water is quite literally the reversed flow of water. So instead of it flowing into the drainage system as it should, it flows back into the water distribution system. Causes vary, but it is commonly a result of a system stoppage or overload, or increased pressure on the drainage pipe side of the house trap.
If clean, potable water flows back into the system it won’t be harmful, but it is still undesirable. If other liquids, gases, or other substances get mixed into the water, this can contaminate the water, which can be dangerous.
Backsiphonage is caused by negative or reduced pressure in the supply piping, often because either the pipes are undersized or because the supply pressure is interrupted. The concern here is that the entire supply of potable water could be contaminated.
Backflow preventers are devices that prevent backflow. Essentially, what it does is allow water to flow in one direction only, never in the opposite direction.
Generally, a backwater valve is installed in the branch line, building drain, or sewer where there is a possibility of backflow occurring. This prevents waste or drainage from backing up into a lower level of the system, or in fixtures, causing flooding.
As mentioned above, backflow preventers are a retroactive mandatory item on all of New York City’s buildings, however big or small they are. In order to comply with their specific requirements, a professional engineering firm like ours must undertake a detailed survey of the site or drawings where the device will be located. Then the firm is responsible for submission of the design to the DEP in the form of an official application.
New York Engineers has extensive experience in backflow prevention designs and services. In fact, our success rate in terms of one-time approval is 90%. We also boast the fastest possible average turnaround from when we are hired to getting approval: just 1.4 months! Additionally, we offer a flat fee of $3,000 for backflow preventer approval. Developers, in particular, really appreciate our service.
Sprinkler Water Service
Automatic sprinkler systems make buildings safer than they would be in the event of a fire, so, in addition to the NYC Building Code, they need to comply with the NYC Fire Code which has Standards for the installation of sprinkler systems in different types and sizes of building.
In addition to office and commercial buildings taller than 100 feet (as mentioned above), one- and two-family dwellings and manufactured homes, as well as low-rise residential buildings, must also comply with the NYC Fire Code for the installation of sprinkler systems.
Residential buildings taller than three stories, including detached one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses (or multiple single-family dwellings) that don’t have independent means of egress for all NYC dwelling units, must, by law, have automatic sprinkler systems. Otherwise, these systems are optional.
We can help ensure that your building is 100% compliant.