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NYC DEP's New Wait! Program

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

The New York Times published a great article about the City’s Wait! Program being piloted in Brooklyn and Queens in which the City is calling on residents in parts of Brooklyn and Queens to cut back their water use during rainstorms by postponing showers and other chores. Here is a link to the article.

We commend DEP for working closely with Newtown Creek Alliance, Pratt Institute, and many waterway stakeholders on the Wait! pilot.

Pratt Institute's Sustainable Environmental Systems and Communications Design programs helped the City to research the Wait pilot program. Students, along with faculty members Jaime Stein and David Frisco, engaged in a three-phase research effort to create a communications campaign that connects communities to their waterbodies, harnesses community action, and offers qualitative measures of success for the Wait program.

Pratt's research team has recommended that the City utilize this framework on a sewershed-by-sewershed basis, in the context of the City’s Long Term Control Plan Program. SWIM agrees!

TheWait! program is based on a 2011 SWIM/Newtown Creek Alliance project called Weather in the Watershed, in which SWIM and a team of folks at the Newtown Creek Alliance installed weather stations in Newtown Creek that collected rainfall data and evaluated real-time CSO discharges using devices installed at outfall sites in the East River. Text message alerts were then sent to waterway stakeholders letting them know when the water quality would likely be bad and to conserve water in their homes to help lessen the burden on the combined sewer system.

People ask us all the time what they as individuals can do to help solve the CSO problem in NYC. We advise them to refrain from running the washing machine and dishwasher and try to flush the toilet less often during wet weather. We also share some great posters that Newtown Creek Alliance and Pratt Center for Community Development and the Open Sewer Atlas program produced for a project called Grey to Green which communicated how water conservation and green infrastructure can help lessen combined sewer overflows. Here is a link to the posters that you can download. The poster to the left is one of our favorites!

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