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SFPUC and San Francisco Unified School District Celebrate Completion of New Stormwater Green Infrastructure Projects at Two Public Schools
Transformation to sustainable landscapes at Lafayette Elementary School and Bessie Carmichael Middle School supported by SFPUC’s Green Infrastructure Grant Program
Posted Date: 11/5/2020 10:00 AM
San Francisco, CA –The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the San Francisco Unified School District today celebrated the completion of two new green infrastructure projects at Lafayette Elementary School and Bessie Carmichael Middle School. The improvements at the schools are two of the first projects funded through the SFPUC’s Green Infrastructure Grant Program. The schoolyard green infrastructure will help manage stormwater in a more sustainable manner by using plants and soil to capture and filter a combined 622,000 gallons of rain each year.

“Our public schools sit upon some of the largest parcels of land in San Francisco, which offers them opportunities to make transformational changes to our City’s infrastructure and landscapes,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “Thanks to the leadership at the SFUSD, these schools are seizing the opportunity to improve the sustainability and efficiency of their water operations, while encouraging their students to become the next generation of environmental stewards in San Francisco.”

“These projects are not only a victory for the environment and making the most of our rainwater, they offer ongoing lessons in sustainability practices for our students,” SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. “We are grateful to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for improving the yards and infrastructure at our schools and doing so with education at the forefront.”

Improvements to Lafayette Elementary School, located at 4545 Anza Street in the Richmond District, include the implementation of bioretention planters and landscape redesigns that better absorb and collect rainwater onsite. Additionally, a new dry creek bed was installed, which manages rainwater while providing a nature play area for students. The Green Infrastructure Grant awarded by the SFPUC totaled just over $489,000, with the project removing 346,000 gallons of stormwater from the sewer system annually.

At Bessie Carmichael Middle School, located at 824 Harrison Street in the SoMa District, the schoolyard was regraded to direct stormwater to newly installed bioretention planters which also collect rooftop runoff from disconnected downspouts, improving the permeability of the site and preventing water from flowing into the local sewer system. The project also added greenspace, improved the play area and raised awareness about stormwater managements practices for students. 

When students and teachers return to the school, they will be able to interact with the program’s first “stormwater mural,” a unique depiction of the stormwater system that is being designed in collaboration with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The Green Infrastructure Grant Awarded by the SFPUC totaled nearly $430,000, with the project managing 276,000 gallons of stormwater each year.

Green infrastructure projects are a crucial element of the SFPUC’s Sewer System Improvement Program, a 20-year citywide investment to upgrade and improve the City’s sewer system. SFPUC’s green infrastructure projects, along with innovative private projects developed through the Stormwater Management Ordinance, bring the City one step closer to its goal of capturing 1 billion gallons of stormwater using green infrastructure by 2050.

Last year, the SFPUC announced the launch of its Green Infrastructure Grant Program, a funding initiative available for both public and private properties in San Francisco for projects that manage stormwater runoff from a minimum impervious area of 0.5 acres. Residents can visit to learn more about the program and download the grant application.

The SFPUC’s green infrastructure program was spurred on by the City’s Stormwater Management Ordinance, a groundbreaking initiative to more efficiently capture and store the City’s rainwater. That program recently marked its 10-year anniversary.
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, residential customers, 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