U.S. Water News Online
NEW YORK -- The lunchtime view of Lincoln Center Plaza
Instead of dancing waters in the plaza's famed ornamental
fountain, only a bone-dry labyrinth of steel pipes greeted visitors
-- the latest victim of drought restrictions.
"It's a little scary," said Emily Fisher, surveying the waterless
fountain. "But if it'll save water, it doesn't bother me."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared a drought emergency in the city
late last month, turning fountains dry, restricting sidewalk washing,
and making car washing harder.
The city first declared a drought warning Jan. 27. Despite a 30
million gallon drop in daily consumption, though, Bloomberg upped the
urgency to an emergency.
The tighter restrictions affect the city's 8 million residents and
about 1 million suburbanites. Penalties range from $100 to $1,000,
and more for repeat offenders.
City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said the dry fountains -- 55
of which are on city park land -- "serve as a reminder to all New
Yorkers that they should save water."
New York isn't alone. In February, Pennsylvania Gov. Mark S.
Schweiker declared 24 counties under a drought emergency and called
for reducing water usage by up to 15 percent.
In neighboring New Jersey, statewide water-use restrictions also
were imposed last month when Gov. James E. McGreevey declared a
drought emergency. They were the first such restrictions since 1999.
In New York City, inspectors went out in advance of the
restrictions to advise the public -- sidewalks cannot be washed, for
instance, and cars can be washed only with well water. Commercial car
washes in the area typically use well water.
The city's lawn-watering trucks will now be filled with water from
several wells from around the city.
Currently, the city's upstate reservoirs are at 58.1 percent of
capacity, compared with 95.3 percent of capacity under normal
conditions at this time of year. Three of seven main reservoirs are
below 50 percent.
City drought warnings have been issued in 1991 and 1995, but the
last declared drought emergency was in 1989. At that time, water use
averaged 1.4 billion gallons a day.
"Our consumption of water is drastically lower than in the last
drought emergency," said Geoffrey Ryan, a spokesman for the
Department of Environmental Protection. He credited a variety of
water conservation programs with lowering use to about 1.2 billion
gallons a day.
Benepe, the parks commissioner, said the restrictions are "a big
handicap to our operation because the Parks Department is in charge
of growing things."
So Benepe put his hopes on a rainy April. "We're hoping for
meteorological intervention," he said.
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