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SFPUC Redeploys Temporary Flood Barriers at 17th and Folsom Streets
Agency testing and evaluating innovative project to minimize impact of heavy rains
Posted Date: 3/10/2016 1:00 PM
San Francisco, CA – On Thursday morning, March 10, 2016, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) deployed for the second time over 400 feet of interlocking, water-tight flood barriers near the intersection of 17th and Folsom Streets to minimize the impact of anticipated heavy rains in this low-lying Mission neighborhood. SFPUC crews, on site to help residents and businesses access their properties, placed the plastic barriers on the sidewalk along two blocks and will remove them when the threat of heavy rain has subsided. SFPUC deployed the barriers for the first time ever in San Francisco last weekend and removed them Monday morning. Extensive hydraulic analysis and modeling were conducted to prepare for the flood barrier pilot; project implementation will be carefully monitored and evaluated for effectiveness.

“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 task force is also developing a comprehensive Flood Resilience Study, expected in late spring of this year, that will identify improvements for the areas of the sewer system where increased stormwater control is warranted and help guide future ratepayer investments and prioritize projects citywide. However, even once these projects are completed, 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 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 be rain ready. The 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 here: