Your next shower will require 18 gallons — and other startling facts about New Yorkers' water use

By Lucy Cohen Blatter | June 16, 2015 - 11:59AM

One of the reasons rents are too damn high in NYC? The cost of water.  According to WNYC, water costs in the city have increased by 300 percent in the last 15 years — that's more than labor, fuel and even real estate taxes.

This week, WNYC is running a series called  “The Cost of Our Water." Here are some interesting takeaways:

  • The water rate in the city is 1.3 cents a gallon.
  • The average New Yorker spends less than a dollar a day on water, using 60 to 70 gallons of water per person per day. (It takes about 18 gallons of water to take a shower.)
  • Old pipes are the biggest risk to the quality of water in NYC. Experts suggest residents in older buildings (where lead and other chemicals could make their way into water) let the tap run for 30 seconds before using the water.
  • Low-income buildings spend more on water than ones where the rich live, for several reasons: First, household sizes are often larger so there are more showers and toilet flushes per apartment. Also, their residents spend less time away from their apartments, and therefore use more water.
  • Because water bills are built into rents, cost increases often go unnoticed by renters. NYC homeowners are the ones who realize how much more they're paying.
  • NYC's water comes from the Catskills, and there are three aqueducts that bring water from upstate New York into the city.
  • The New York City water supply system delivers 1 billion gallons of water a day.
  • Water gets treated with chlorine and flouride and blasted with U/V light as it heads to New York.
  • There are 7,000 miles of pipe that carry water around the city once it hits the Bronx.
  • Water can only travel up six stories. If your building is more than six stories, you probably have a water tower on the roof.  

All new to you? Us too.  Think you know it all? Test your water knowledge with WNYC's quiz.


Are you wasting less water than your neighbors? This survey lets you know

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