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SFPUC Deploys New Temporary Flood Barriers at 17th and Folsom Streets
Agency to test and evaluate innovative project to minimize impact of heavy rains
Posted Date: 3/5/2016 10:30 AM

San Francisco, CA – On Saturday, March 5, 2106, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) deployed over 400 feet of interlocking, water-tight flood barriers to minimize the impact of anticipated heavy rains in one low-lying Mission neighborhood. SFPUC crews, on site while the barriers are in place to help residents and businesses access their properties, placed the plastic barriers on the sidewalk along two blocks near the intersection of 17th and Folsom Streets. The recycled water-filled barriers will be removed when heavy rain has stopped and/or any flooding has subsided.

“We recognize the tremendous disruption localized flooding can have on our customers during extreme rain events,” said Harlan L. Kelly, Jr., SFPUC General Manager. “That’s why we’re committed to trying innovative approaches like these flood barriers to minimize the impact of intense storms.”

In addition to the $165,000 temporary flood barrier project, the SFPUC is evaluating longer-term capital projects to address flooding in the most impacted areas of the City, including 17th/Folsom, Cayuga/Alemany and Wawona/15th Ave. These projects, estimated to cost a total of $250 million, are expected to go into construction between 2016 and 2017 after extensive planning, design and environmental review processes.

An interdepartmental SFPUC task force is also developing a comprehensive Flood Resilience Study, expected in late spring of this year. This will identify improvements for the areas of the sewer system where increased stormwater control is warranted and help guide future ratepayer investments to prioritize projects citywide. However, once these projects are complete, intense rainfall that exceeds the system’s capacity could still cause flooding in low-lying areas. No urban drainage system can be built large enough to withstand all extreme rain storms.

In the meantime, crews continue to inspect and deep clean the City’s 25,000 catch basins and proactively monitor areas prone to flooding throughout storm events, as well as inspecting, cleaning, repairing and replacing aging sewers. The SFPUC has streamlined our emergency response protocols, partnered with our sister agency, Public Works, and increased our staffing to better assist residents and businesses in times of severe weather. We have also hand-delivered thousands of free sandbags to areas especially prone to flooding to make it easier for residents to protect their properties.

We encourage San Franciscans to take steps to prepare themselves, their homes and businesses for major rain events. We have asked the public to help keep stormwater flowing smoothly into catch basins by raking away leaves and debris that may clog the top of the grates when it is safe to do so. We also offer a number of programs to empower residents to prepare for the current and future rainy seasons. Our Floodwater Grant Program reimburses eligible property owners up to $30,000 for making improvements to their properties that lower the risk of damage/harm due to flooding.  The City has also arranged participation in the National Flood Insurance Program, which provides federally-backed affordable flood insurance for homeowners, renters and businesses in all areas of the City. 

As always, the best way to report any sewer issues, such as flooding, sewage backup or clogged catch basins, is to contact 3-1-1 by logging in to, using the mobile app for Android and iPhone or dialing 3-1-1.


More information on storm preparation is available on our website: