You Won’t Have to Ask for Water at Restaurants Anymore. Wait, What?

glass of water

When Subdivision (a) of Section 20-08 of Chapter 20 of Title 15 of the Rules of the City of New York Governing and Restricting the Use and Supply of Water is repealed later this month, you won’t have to ask your waiter for a glass of water anymore in order to get a little hydration, the Times reports. I know what you’re thinking: thank god! what the hell are you talking about? It turns out a little-known rule prohibits restaurants from just giving you water unless you ask for it; it dates at least to the early 90s, when the city was facing a drought, though enforcement has been lax: 14 warnings were issued in 2002, the last time New York faced a drought emergency. No summons have been issued during wetter/wilder times.

Most restaurateurs to which the Times reached out basically laughed because they’d never heard of such a regulation, though many were sympathetic to the idea of not giving out water like it was water. “We don’t serve [tap water],” said the owner of Goodfella’s on Staten Island, where the mayor goes to eat with silverware like a goddamn civilized human being, “because we want people to order beverages and wine. Otherwise, they’d just fill up on water.” True story: I managed not to spend any money at a bar the other night by pretending to be a “designated driver” and drinking water all night long. Suckers!

Restaurants don’t like to dole out water like it grows on trees because, in fact, it doesn’t (metaphorically and otherwise): all 836,000 of the city’s water customers have to pay for the stuff by the gallon, which very accurate new water meters can make pricey. (Though, get this: the city consumes one-third less water than it did at its most consumptive point in the mid-70s—the lowest amount since the mid-60s, “when the population was smaller and the city was experiencing a drought,” the Times reports. Now we just a billion gallons a day. “Just.”)

The regulation will still be in effect during drought emergencies. No worries about that any time soon, though, what with all this snow, am I right?

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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