NY: Policy Drives Water Consumption Way Down

Water consumption in New York City has fallen by nearly a third over the past 27 years, despite the city growing by over 1 million residents. The trick isn't in the decline in manufacturing over in the growth of the bottle watered industry, but in public policy changes:
Experts say, however, that the large drop in water consumption is a phenomenon more akin to the drop in crime and in the welfare rolls: products of government policy. The city now requires water-saving plumbing fixtures and devices in renovations and new construction, it has been more diligent in finding and fixing leaks, and since the late 1980’s it has been metering residential customers’ water use. (Even so, water bills are often challenged and some go unpaid.) Before then, property owners were charged a flat fee based on a building’s street frontage and number of plumbing fixtures.
The lesson from New York is that conservation is quite feasible even in surging populations. Nathan Newman, our policy director, noted some time ago that New York City is also amazing in its energy conservation. The typical New Yorker consumers one-third the gasoline of other Americans and household energy use is way, way lower.