Between 2000 and 2014, New York City grew by almost half a million residents—483,000 to be exact. This was the biggest population increase among the nation’s largest cities during that period, reports the City.

And New York City is well on its way to meeting the projection of nine million residents by 2030. The Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency notes on its website:

“Population growth will place new pressure on an infrastructure system that is already aging beyond reliable limits. Many of the systems pioneered in New York City are also among the oldest in the U.S., and susceptible to disrepair over time, or damage by severe weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy.”

How Are We Planning? Take a Look at the City’s Budget

Take a look at the Summary of Mayor de Blasio’s proposed 2016 Executive Budget. It’s reader-friendly, in slide format, and provides lots of interesting information about the City’s long-term planning priorities.

[The New York City Council will give final approval to the City budget prior to the start of the Fiscal Year on July 1- this is called the adopted budget.]

We were intrigued by the proposed 2016-2025 Capital Budget (see slide 44). Capital costs refer to spending on long-term assets, like buildings, streets and infrastructure. This category does not include annual operational expenses, like personnel.

We’ve highlighted capital budget categories that have a clear connection to environmental protection and sustainability.

2016-2025 Capital Budget, Major Categories:

  • Education: $23.4 billion
  • Environmental Protection: $14.7 billion
  • Bridges & Highways: $12.6 billion
  • Housing: $8.4 billion
  • Administration of Justice: $4.7 billion
  • Economic Development: $3.4 billion
  • Health & Hospitals: $2.9 billion
  • Resiliency & Energy Efficiency: $2.5 billion
  • Parks: $2.5 billion
  • Sanitation: $2.3 billion
  • Technology: $1.7 billion
  • Fire: $1.3 billion
  • Public Buildings: $1.2 billion
  • Mass Transit: $0.8 billion
  • Culturals & Libraries: $0.8 billion
  • Social Services: $0.6 billion

Combined, the various environmental protection and sustainability categories make up over a quarter—27 percent—of the City’s 2016-2015 capital budget.

All sorts of questions can be asked about the dollar amounts allocated to these categories. For instance, how is mass transit going to get the capital support (from the city, state and the feds) it actually needs? We will dig into that in a future post.

For the moment, here’s some more detail on this $14.7 billion “environmental protection” category.

Maintaining Clean Water for 9 Million, at a Cost of $14.7 billion

As the last couple days have demonstrated, adequate stormwater infrastructure in New York City is absolutely critical, and the need for this infrastructure will increase as our climate continues to change.

Here’s how the Mayor has allocated $14.7 billion in capital spending for the Department of Environmental Protection, which is also the city’s water utility, over the next ten years (see slide 50):


  • Sewers and In-City Water Mains: $6 billion (41%)
  • Wastewater Treatment: $5.6 billion (38%)
  • Upstate Watersheds (which provide our drinking water): $1.4 billion (9%)
  • Drinking Water Supply: $1.2 billion (8%)
  • Equipment: $500 million (4%)