While New York State is known for its plentiful freshwater resources, current climate models predict an increased frequency and length of droughts and heat waves in this region as an effect of climate change. In recent years, we have already seen droughts affecting stream flow and water levels in smaller drinking water systems, reservoirs and private wells around the state.
This bill ensures that plumbing fixtures sold or installed in the state reduce the amount of water used by aligning New York State’s water efficiency standards with the voluntary guidelines set by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Program. New York’s current water efficiency standards, last updated in 2002, are far less stringent than the EPA’s WaterSense guidelines.
Drought is not the only reason New York needs to update water efficiency standards and conserve water. Clean water that is wasted puts pressure on our wastewater treatment systems, potentially exacerbating the problem of sewage discharges into our lakes and rivers, especially during precipitation events. Updating water efficiency standards and conserving water is a common-sense measure that helps us in times of drought, reduces the pressure on our wastewater systems, and better prepares us for the eventual effects of climate change. Conserving water also saves consumers money on their water bills.
Several other states, including California, Georgia, Texas, and Colorado, have already updated their water efficiency standards to match the WaterSense guidelines. This legislation, if passed, helps us conserve our water resources and better prepares us for future drought conditions.
This bill amends the environmental conservation law to align New York’s water efficiency standards with federal guidelines with an effective date of January 1, 2022.