Preparing for Stormwater
Each day, DEP provides more than one billion gallons of water through 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels, and aqueducts, and manages nearly 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater traveling through 7,500 miles of sewers to our treatment plants. Our projects are typically large in scale, with far-reaching effects, and require years of planning and construction. This means we must be thinking about what will happen 25, 50, and even 100 years into the future. Some long term and emerging trends have become clearer over the last few years, and they require us to take a step back and evaluate how we accomplish our mission.
Most important, the challenges surrounding stormwater management are coming sharply into focus. Two key factors are leading us to recognize the increased importance of this issue in coming years:
- federal and state regulations becoming ever more stringent and beginning to reach into stormwater management
- the very real threats posed by climate change
To develop effective plans and implement new solutions we need more structured partnering, some reconfiguration of existing responsibilities, and the development of new capabilities, all focusing on stormwater management. We have outlined the first steps, developed with senior staff, toward making the changes needed to confront the challenges posed by stormwater management. These include:
Sustainability and Legal Affairs
Our Sustainability and Legal Affairs bureaus are jointly developing a 20+ year look-ahead at climate change impacts and regulatory requirements. They will work closely with the other bureaus and offer expert input to determine the best short- and long-term responses to these challenges.
Water and Sewer Operations
Our Bureau of Water and Sewer Operations will be most directly affected by the intensified focus on stormwater and, along with Wastewater Treatment, will operate and maintain what is ultimately built. Water and Sewer Operations will significantly expand its work on stormwater planning and management, and will accelerate the build-out of missing pieces of stormwater infrastructure.
Water Supply staff have assumed responsibility for Hillview Reservoir, Jerome Park Reservoir, and the Croton Filtration Plant to consolidate expertise around drinking water monitoring and treatment. This will also facilitate planning and negotiating the next Filtration Avoidance Determination.
Engineering, Design and Construction
There will be a specialized unit dedicated to long-term planning for stormwater management. The unit will integrate Long Term Control Plan work with other stormwater planning.
We are confident that these changes will strengthen our response to the emerging challenges and catalyze new thinking and partnerships across the agency. A Working Group, from across the department, is also being convened to address any issues that arise as we implement these initiatives.