It's been called "the champagne of drinking water," and for good reason. Compared to other major cities, New York City water is pricey. And if you've been the landlord of a multi-family building for the past several years, you are all too aware of the skyrocketing costs of water.
In May 2019, the New York City Water Board announced that it would hold a series of public hearings about the proposed water rates increase. At those public hearings, the new rates were approved, and the price of water rose from $10.10 per 100 cf (748 gallons) to $10.33. While it’s not a huge increase, even 23 cents per 748 gallons can add up quickly, especially for landlords of large apartment buildings. The rise in water rates is compounded by the fact that the price of water in New York City has risen by over 100% over the past 15 years.
While the rise in the cost of water is unpleasant, the money will be going toward a massive $1 billion project that New York City committed to in 2018. The project is aimed at protecting the municipal water system and maintaining the purity of its unfiltered tap water.
At the same time that the project was announced, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection announced that it would be giving away up to $1 million in funding to low-income and senior property owners citywide to upgrade their plumbing with new, high-efficiency models. If you weren’t lucky enough to receive some funding, you probably still have a lot of questions about how you can save on water costs.
New York City's New Water Rates Increase
Here's what you need to know about the latest rate increase and why it doesn't have to affect your pocketbook as much as you'd think.
What You Need to Know
The new charge for water and wastewater billed on the basis of metered consumption will be $3.99 for water and $6.34 for sewege per one hundred cubic feet – resulting in a total of $10.33 per one hundred cubic feet.
That's an increase of 23 cents per 100 cubic feet over the previous combined rate. The average person uses between 80-100 gallons of water a day. Let’s assume it’s toward the lower end and that you have 1000 tenants - that means you have a daily water consumption of 80,000 gallons of water, and a yearly consumption of 29,200,000 gallons of water. As you can imagine, that extra 23 cents can translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars more in water bills per year.
But guess what? The NYC water rate increase doesn’t mean you need to go broke. With pro-active conservation methods you could potentially save that amount AND some change.
How to Reduce Your Water Bill in New York City
When some landlords initially hear about water conservation, they assume it benefits the environment. That is, it's something that sounds nice, but isn't a priority. That all changes once we have them do the math. With just a few, small steps, most properties could be saving thousands of dollars a year. We care about the environment as much as the next person, but we also understand you're running a business. So, let's discuss how you can simultaneously help the planet and your bottom line:
1. Opt for Tamper-Proof Fixtures
While low-flow fixtures are an obvious step in the right direction (cutting down water flow from 4gpm to 2gpm in many cases), they're not enough. Tenants are notorious for de-installing low-flow showerheads and replacing them with their own older, high-output models. Besides the fact that these old showerheads no longer meet legislative standards, they also cost you more money than necessary.
The solution is installing hidden, tamper-proof regulators. Not only will you likely see a significant reduction in water usage, you'll also save on the energy costs required to heat the water. Check out our tamper-proof fixture designed to provide savings without sacrificing pressure.
2. Install Water-Saving Valves or Flappers on Your Toilets
Older toilets can use as much as 7 gallons of water per flush, while newer ones use only 1.6 gallons. If you don’t have the budget to replace all the toilets in your building with newer low-flow models, there is still a way you can save water. Water-saving valves or flappers can be easily installed on the toilets in your building, and they are designed to control how much water flows into the toilet when flushed. Adjustable toilet flappers and valves can be purchased on Amazon and Home Depot for as little as $5 a piece, and the savings can be up to 2.5 gallons of water per flush for old toilets. In a building with 1000 apartments, 2.5 gallons per flush can translate into big savings.
3. Install Wireless Monitoring
You can now easily monitor toilet fill cycles, flushes per day and times of day from your smartphone. The Toilet Scrooge is an unobtrusive device that sits near the base of the toilet, electronically reporting live information to a master database. By keeping tabs on potentially malfunctioning toilets, you can fix small leaks and problems before they become big ones. We've been working on this product for a while and are really excited to share with the public about the additional level of savings it can provide.
As you can see, the recent water rate increase doesn't have to negatively affect you. By implementing any one of these tips, you can soften the blow and save. Browse our case studies to get an idea of how much you could potentially save with some real numbers.