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Launch of PureWaterSF and Largest Onsite Water Reuse Project Highlight Another Innovative Year for SFPUC Water Resources Team
Conservation programs and incentives offered by the SFPUC result in City continuing to have one of the lowest water consumption rates in California
Posted Date: 12/10/2019 10:00 AM
San Francisco, CA – The launch of the innovative PureWaterSF program, which tests the feasibility of treating wastewater to meet drinking water standards, and the successful completion of the City’s largest onsite water reuse project were just two of the highlights captured in the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s annual Water Resources Report

“Our Water Resources team continues to pursue some of the most innovative projects in the country, which is why the SFPUC remains a national leader in conservation practices,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “But we do not do this alone. The residents and businesses of San Francisco continue to pursue the highest standards for sustainability, making this a true Citywide effort.” 

The SFPUC’s PureWaterSF program is the result of a partnership research project between the Water Research Foundation and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. In the SFPUC headquarters at 525 Golden Gate Avenue, the agency is treating approximately 80 percent of the wastewater currently produced by the agency’s Living Machine and bringing it to drinking water standards. The wastewater is treated with ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light to provide purified water that can meet drinking water standards. The reuse project at the SFPUC headquarters is the largest of its kind in the country.

In July, the SFPUC and Energy Center San Francisco (ECSF) celebrated the launch of the City’s largest onsite water reuse project. Funded in part by the SFPUC, the initiative diverts foundation drainage at the Powell Street BART station and redirect it to ECSF’s District Energy Plant for use in their district steam loop, resulting in 30 million gallons of drinking water saved annually.

Additionally, the SFPUC’s Water Conservation Program helped customers take actions to save water at remarkable rates. At 41 gallons of water per day, the consumption rate in San Francisco is one of the lowest in the state. 

The SFPUC’s Water Resources Division is responsible for the implementation of the agency’s water conservation programs, as well as the development of local water supplies, including groundwater, recycled water and non-potable water programs.

The annual report details the following SFPUC accomplishments:

  • The implementation of 2,697 site-specific “WaterWise” surveys for residential and commercial buildings, which provide water efficiency recommendations for indoor and outdoor uses, irrigation system assessments and leak identification.

  • Funding assistance to four different projects from the SFPUC’s Large Landscape Grant Program, which encourages customers with landscapes over a half-acre to implement irrigation and planting improvement projects that reduce water use. The grants benefitted projects at Washington Square Park, the Forest Hills MUNI Station, the Sunol Glen Elementary School and the Moscone Park Playground.

  • Expansion of the of the Brewery Water Reuse Grant Program, which provides funding to collect and reuse brewery process water, thereby helping businesses significantly reduce their water footprint. Breweries typically use as much as 7 million gallons of water to produce 1 million gallons of beer—this grant program significantly increases efficiency. 

  • Creation of eight new onsite water reuse projects, six new groundwater wells and two new water recycling projects. 

  • Continued management of the City’s pioneering non-potable water program, which requires all new developments over 250,000 square feet to treat water onsite to meet irrigation and bathroom demands, helping to reduce potable water usage.

The SFPUC is committed to exploring innovative practices to conserve water and diversify its sources, as part of the City’s OneWaterSF approach. San Francisco is the first municipality to adopt groundbreaking legislation that allows buildings to install onsite water reuse systems to meet demands such as toilet flushing and irrigation.

“The collective efforts of the SFPUC’s Water Resources Division reflects the unit’s OneWaterSF framework, which takes an integrated water management approach that focuses on the right water for the right use,” said SFPUC Water Resources Director Paula Kehoe. “The SFPUC is always hard at work to deliver safe and reliable water. We also partner with the community to use water efficiently and to recycle water locally.”

A full copy of the Water Resources Division’s annual report, which was presented at today’s SFPUC Commission meeting, can be found here

For information about the SFPUC’s conservation assistance programs, including free toilets and water-saving devices, clothes washer rebates, and water-wise evaluations, visit

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, residents, 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