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Non-potable Water Program

plantings along the sidewalkThe Non-potable Water Program creates a streamlined process for new commercial, multi-family, and mixed-use developments in San Francisco to collect, treat, and reuse alternate water sources for toilet flushing, irrigation and other non-potable uses. The program establishes guidelines for developers interested in installing non-potable water systems in buildings and local regulations to ensure appropriate water quality standards. In 2013, the program was expanded to allow for buildings to share treated alternate water sources for non-potable applications.  

Several developments in San Francisco, including SFPUC Headquarters (525 Golden Gate Ave.) are operating or are in the process of installing a non-potable water system. For more information about these developments, please see the San Francisco’s Non-Potable Water System Projects case studies.

Do the requirements apply to me?

If you choose to install a system on your property, then the requirements of the Non-potable Water Program apply to you.

Non-potable water systems must include the required level of backflow protection as set forth by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Cross-Connection Control Program. Please see Required Levels of Backflow Protection for Non-potable Water Systems.  

Non-potable Water At a Glance

To encourage the reuse of water generated onsite to expand water savings and further diversify our water supply portfolio.

Who Must Comply?
Anyone who installs and operates an onsite non-potable water system.

Municipal Code

Health Code, Article 12C;

Rules and Regulations


Effective Date
September 11, 2012

See the Non-potable Water Program Factsheet and Guidebook.

Non-potable Water Program
(415) 934-5782

How do I comply?

Engage SFPUC early on in your process by completing the Non-potable Project Water Budget Application. From here, the SFPUC can provide technical and regulatory guidance to help your project move forward including the following:

  • Non-potable water calculators that will help estimate your project’s potable and non-potable water demands as well as the availability of onsite water sources. The SFPUC has developed a single-site calculator and a district-scale calculator.
  • Step-by-step Guidebook on the permitting process.
  • Grant program that will provide up to $500,000 to projects meeting grant eligibility criteria.

The proper operation and maintenance of such systems are critical to protect public health and the City’s drinking water system and requires permits from both the Department of Public Health and the Department of Building Inspection.

What are non-potable water sources?

Alternate sources of water that can be used in an onsite non-potable water system are:

  • Rainwater – precipitation collected from roofs or other manmade above grade surfaces
  • Stormwater – precipitation collected from at or below grade surfaces
  • Graywater – bathroom sinks, showers, and washing machines
  • Blackwater – graywater, kitchen sinks and toilets
  • Foundation Drainage – water that floods basements
  • Other sources as approved by SFDPH

Innovation in Urban Water Systems

On May 29-30, 2014, a dedicated group of water agencies, public health departments, and research institutions from across North America met in San Francisco to discuss onsite water treatment systems at the Innovation in Urban Water Systems Meeting. Using the experiences shared from those organizations present at the Meeting, the group developed the “Blueprint for Onsite Water Systems” to serve as a how-to guide for communities interested in implementing onsite treatment programs. Please visit the Innovation in Urban Water Systems webpage to find out more information about the meeting and participating agencies. 

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Last updated: 12/5/2014 9:22:28 AM