A worker helps prepare a pipe at an SFPUC project site, part of the utility’s ongoing replacement work to upgrade its 1,200-mile water main system. (SFPUC photo)

San Francisco on Track to Governor’s Goal of 15% Urgent Water Conservation

SFPUC Announces Water Use Declines 7% Demonstrating Commitment to Water Efficiency
By SFPUC, Regulations

With water usage in San Francisco already down seven percent since the advent of voluntary restrictions, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is already on track to meet Governor Gavin Newsom’s 15 percent water reduction goal.

Last week, Governor Newsom asked California residents to voluntarily reduce their water usage 15 percent below 2020 rates. Since April 29, when the SFPUC asked for a 10 percent voluntary reduction in use from its 1,600 irrigation customers, water usage is down by seven percent in the City.

The agency has worked with its customers on a combination of measures to reduce water use. Along with the voluntary irrigation reduction request—which included City departments—the SFPUC has reminded San Franciscans to maintain efficient use and avoid water waste indoors and outside. In response to the Governor’s call, the SFPUC has set a goal to reduce usage by 15 percent below 2020 levels throughout its entire service area, which includes 26 wholesale customers in the Bay Area.

“We applaud Governor Newsom’s leadership on this critical issue, and we know that by working with our customers, we can meet the water conservation goal laid out by his administration,” said SFPUC Acting General Manager Michael Carlin. “Our retail customers are already doing an amazing job in being smart and efficient with their water use. We are asking them to continue doing the day-to-day things in their control—like reducing their irrigation use and fixing leaks—that end up having big impacts.”

San Franciscans consume an average of 42 gallons of water per day, one of the lowest rates in California and half the state average. The SFPUC has imposed water restrictions in San Francisco since 2016, when the SFPUC Commission adopted a resolution in response to the fifth year of California’s drought. Those include avoiding runoff from irrigation and outdoor cleaning and limiting hosing of sidewalks and hardscapes to address health and safety needs.

Additionally, the agency offers many resources to encourage efficient water use for customers. These include free onsite irrigation checkups and landscape evaluations, grants, and leak alerts. The SFPUC also provides extensive indoor water-saving assistance, including free replacement of old toilets, rebates for efficient clothes washers and other equipment, and home and business conservation consultations.

More information is available at www.sfpuc.org/savewater. San Francisco customers who register to pay their bills online through MyAccount also can track their water use on a daily or even hourly level to detect water waste.

Along with those consumer-focused measures, the SFPUC has been a national leader on water reuse and recycling efforts. Since first supporting a citywide ordinance in 2012, the SFPUC has become a pioneer in onsite water reuse programs, which allow for the collection, treatment, and use of alternate water sources for non-potable applications in individual buildings.

The SFPUC is expanding its water recycling programs, which reuse water for nondrinking purposes such as landscape irrigation, toilet flushing and street cleaning.

Despite the pandemic, construction continues on the Westside Enhanced Water Recycling Project, a critical undertaking that is set to be completed in 2022.

By relying on multiple sources of water supply, the SFPUC protects its customers from potential disruptions in water supply from emergencies, natural disasters, and extended drought periods.

The SFPUC provides drinking water to 2.7 million people throughout the Bay Area. The water comes from a combination of sources, including the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite and five reservoirs in the Bay Area. Additionally, since 2017, the SFPUC has been adding groundwater into its blend or sources.

About the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residential customers, and businesses. Our mission is to provide our customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that values environmental and community interests and sustains the resources entrusted to our care. Learn more at www.sfpuc.org.