Water Watch NYC

Everything you need to know about water in NYC.

The Lease Agreement Explained


As a response to a comment by a loyal reader on a previous post, I would like to briefly explain what’s known as “the lease agreement.” This will hopefully help readers understand why it is such a hot-button issue (Jim Tripp resigned over it) and even why the DEP and Water Board charge so much for water.

The reservoirs that serve New York City belong to the city. The city has authorized the DEP and various other bodies (the Water Board, the Municipal Water Authority) to distribute water throughout the city, collect payments for the water used, perform capital improvements on the infrastructure and, most importantly, to borrow money to pay for the capital improvements (what each body does in this scheme is not that important and is, frankly, pretty complicated). In order to do all of this, the DEP (for simplicity’s sake, from now on when I refer to the DEP, I mean the DEP and the other bodies that deal with water) needs to use the reservoirs. The city has allowed the DEP to use the reservoirs, but for a price.

This is where it gets complicated. Instead of charging the DEP a fixed amount to lease the reservoirs, the city charges the DEP a percentage of the amount of money that they (the DEP) borrow for capital improvements.

The outcome of all this is that as time goes on and the DEP needs to sink (no pun intended) more and more money into capital improvements just to maintain a decent quality (and quantity) of service, the amount of money that they are paying to the city for using the reservoirs goes up and up. Therefore, our water rates go up to help pay for the increasing capital improvement and they go up some more to pay for the increasing price of the reservoirs’ lease.

The further injustice of all this is that the city then takes this money and uses it for whatever they want. They get the money from the DEP which gets it from those of us that use water in the city. They get the money from us and the DEP specifically for the water infrastructure. And then they turn around and use it for whatever else they want.

At this point it is just another way for Bloomberg to get money without raising taxes. It seems like a good deal: the city gets money and since our taxes don’t go up, we think we’re not paying for it. But anyone who has seen their new water bills knows that we definitely are paying for it – to the tune of $5.98 per hundred cubic feet of water.

Author: Hershel

Hershel is a Water Management Engineer with Ashokan Water Services, where he's actively involved with conservation and building design issues. Prior to his Ashokan, he was a Mechanical Engineer with the City of New York. He is a former President of the New York chapter of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) and is a member of BOMA, IREM and NYARM. Hershel is an avid kayaker.

6 thoughts on “The Lease Agreement Explained

  1. Thank you. I really appreciate this.

    Your blog is very nice.

    • I hate Dasani water personally. I usullay drink either SmartWater or Aquafina. But my all time favorite water is Tynant water. I’ve only ever seen it in my local farmer’s market in Cleveland. But I believe it’s from the UK. My husband and I call it “air water” because it tastes so clear!

      • The one benefit of the round degisn was that you could drape a shower curtain around 3/4 of it to keep the spray down. Do we just border the whole thing with plastic so no one gets wet? How do we keep that from being ugly? I suppose it could be fabric and not plastic.

    • our apologies to you Scott, our real inioettnn were that our visitors can have fun and win real money, we try to organize a tournament for all to participate, but we have a problem of users, trackers and other. hopefully for the next tournament everyone can participate. It is the first private tournament organized by a site, and of course there were mistakes, but we will correct for the next tournament

    • It’ll probably be a shollaw trough under the railing. I’d like to use a 5 gal bucket, but then there are issues with the lower railing backing up and spilling over when the pump shuts off.

  2. Napansin ko nga mommy na this is your first post this December. Pero naalala ko kaabgi na na-block nga pala ung blogger sa office nyo. Nawa’y maikabit na at maging maayos ang GLOBE connection nyo đŸ™‚

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