water fountain

EPA WaterSense: Helping New York City Save Water

By Alex Peck

Water fountains at Fort Green Park in Brooklyn, NY.

Water fountains at Fort Green Park in Brooklyn, NY.

Last summer, while walking through Fort Greene Park on a beautiful day, I noticed a sign posted next to an outdoor fountain describing how New York City had made it more water efficient. The fountain used to run continuously 24 hours a day. Now, thanks in part to the EPA’s recommendations, New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has retrofitted the sprinklers with timer buttons, which, when pressed, allow the sprinkler to operate for two minute intervals. This small effort helps New York City save about 10,000 gallons of water per day!

EPA is helping NYC become more efficient.

EPA is helping NYC become more efficient.

This water conservation measure, along with others that the DEP has made over the last four years, came about through the help of Mr. Lorne LaMonica, a Senior Scientist with EPA in the Pollution Prevention and Climate Change Section. For two years, Mr. LaMonica participated in New York City’s Green Code Task Force and was instrumental in incorporating the EPA WaterSense Program specifications into the NYC Code. The retrofitting of the fountain in Fort Greene Park is just one of the many water conservation measures implemented.

This photo shows the on/off button for the sprinkler in Fort Greene Park. This one button helps NYC save 10,000 gallons of water a day.

This photo shows the on/off button for the sprinkler in Fort Greene Park. This one button helps NYC save 10,000 gallons of water a day.

As a result of Lorne’s efforts, New York City has become a strong proponent of using EPA WaterSense specifications in new construction and retrofits. The city reported to EPA that in 2013, with the assistance of our WaterSense recommendations, it retrofitted 13 schools with water-efficient urinals, toilets, and faucets. As a result of installing these water-saving fixtures, these schools conserved 49,000,000 gallons of water, reduced 114 metric tons of carbon equivalent (greenhouse gases) and saved $143,000 in water utility costs! In 2014, DEP retrofitted an additional 10 schools and the water saving numbers were tremendous: 92,000,000 gallons of water saved, 211 metric tons of carbon equivalent saved, and a savings of $266,800 in water utility costs. These retrofit projects are expected to continue for years through hundreds of schools throughout the city.

To find out more about the EPA’s WaterSense program and how it’s helping communities throughout the United States to save water, visit: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/.

About the Author: Alex Peck is an Environmental Protection Specialist in EPA Region 2’s Pollution Prevention and Climate Change Section.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Bring Back The Water Fountain

By Nancy Stoner

Last summer I was walking through the French Quarter of New Orleans. It was a hot, steamy summer day and I was thirsty, so I looked for a water fountain. After several blocks of searching, I realized that while there is a bar on every corner, there are no drinking fountains in sight. The lack of public water fountains is not unique to New Orleans – water fountains have been disappearing from public spaces throughout the country over the last few decades. And with the loss of drinking fountains also comes a loss of public knowledge about the importance of investing in drinking water systems, which provide dependable, affordable and clean water.

Reinvigorating public water fountains provides a variety of benefits. They provide a service to residents and tourists who need a drink of clean water. They provide an alternative to sodas and other high-sugar drinks for children, both in schools and around town. When old, broken-down drinking fountains are restored it preserves historic relics of our cities.

Water fountains can also save money. The U.S. provides some of the highest quality tap water in the world at a very low cost to consumers. Municipalities work hard to provide this service, spending billions of dollars to provide clean tap water, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. On average, the cost to treat, filter and deliver tap water is 0.2 cents per gallon – roughly 750-2,700 times less expensive than bottled water. In spite of this cost difference, Americans drink around 30 gallons of bottled water per person per year. And with one estimate that 1,500 bottles of water are consumed in the U.S. every second, this is a huge amount going into the recycling and waste stream. Since cities bear the cost of collecting, transporting, recycling and land-filling plastic bottles, reducing this stream could save city resources.

Many cities are taking action. Minneapolis, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. are encouraging residents to drink tap water, in part by reinvigorating public water fountains. EPA is also working with mayors across the country through the U.S. Conference of Mayors to promote the value of public water fountains.

Growing up, many of us remember getting thirsty and finding the nearest drinking fountain. It’s time to reinvigorate and celebrate our public water system and the clean, safe drinking water we have. It’s time to bring back the water fountain.

About the author: Nancy Stoner is the Acting Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Water

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.