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Water Efficient Plumbing Fixtures

San Franciscans today have some of the lowest water use in California, but with long-term threats posed by climate change, we understand that supporting and developing local, state and national policy and legislation is an effective way to institutionalize water conservation. In recent years stakeholders and City departments have developed local ordinances that help achieve San Francisco’s conservation goals.

New Efficiency Standards for Toilet Installations

The San Francisco Plumbing Code has been updated to meet new minimum state water conservation standards. Effective July 1, 2011 toilets (single or dual flush tank, flushometer tank, or flushometer valve-operated water closets) installed in San Francisco cannot exceed a maximum flush volume of 1.28 gallons per flush.  Our rebates are available for models that meet EPA WaterSense standards and commercial flushometer valve/bowl combinations appearing on our qualifying list and are used to replace old, inefficient toilets with 3.5 or higher flush volumes. Look for a WaterSense label when you shop, or talk to your plumber for more details.

Water Efficient Irrigation Ordinance

In 2010, amendments to San Francisco’s local landscape irrigation ordinance were enacted to meet new requirements from the state regarding outdoor water use. The City now requires all properties with over 500 square feet of newly constructed or rehabilitated landscape to implement efficient irrigation systems, utilize low water use and climate appropriate plants, and establish a site-specific water budget to keep your landscape healthy and water efficient. Visit for complete details.

Residential and Commercial Water Conservation Ordinances

Effective July 1, 2009 two new ordinances updated local water efficiency laws for San Francisco properties.

If you are a residential property owner in the process of selling or performing major improvements, there are amendments to the San Francisco Residential Water Conservation Ordinance that affect your property. This law requires that you repair plumbing leaks and install certain water and energy conservation measures to obtain a certificate of compliance prior to transfer of title.

The Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance requires similar conservation measures and improvements for all commercial properties by January 1, 2017 or upon major improvements.

The conservation ordinances established the following water efficiency guidelines for residential and commercial properties:

  1. All showerheads have a maximum flow of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm)
  2. All showers have no more than one showerhead per valve
  3. All faucets and faucet aerators have a maximum flow rate of 2.2 gpm
  4. All water closets (toilets) have a maximum rated water consumption of 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) or the flush volume set by updates to the plumbing code.  Effective July 1, 2011 and as noted above, the law requires that new toilet fixture installations may not exceed 1.28 gallons per flush, per the San Francisco Plumbing Code, Chapter 4, Section 402.2.
  5. All urinals have a maximum flow rate of 1.0 gpf  Note: This requirement pertains only to commercial properties. To achieve compliance with the Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance, new urinal fixture installations may not exceed 0.5 gallons per flush as established in the San Francisco Plumbing Code, Chapter 4, Section 402.3.
  6. All water leaks have been repaired

For more information on the water conservation ordinances please visit our page of Frequently Asked Questions.

Compliance with San Francisco’s water conservation ordinances must be completed through the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI). For more information or to schedule an inspection, call the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection at (415) 558-6205.

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Last updated: 6/5/2017 4:05:32 PM