S.F. Public Utilities Commission Ratifies 10% Mandatory Outdoor Irrigation Conservation Measures

Restrictions Comply with State Water Resources Control Board’s New Emergency Regulations for Outdoor Urban Water Use 

San Francisco, CA – On August 12th, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) passed new emergency outdoor irrigation restrictions for all of its retail customers. The regulations feature a mandate to reduce potable water use by 10% for outdoor irrigation of ornamental landscape and turf. They also require that the SFPUC implement its plan to reduce wasteful outdoor water use.

The new restrictions for outdoor irrigation take effect mid-September and last through June 30, 2015. Only water customers that have metered irrigation accounts will be issued a usage allocation based on a 10% reduction of their 2013 usage. During that September – June timeframe, customers’ usage must not exceed their allocation. Customers will be able to track how they are doing on each bill. At the next scheduled meeting of the SFPUC, Commissioners will consider an excess use charge of 2x the billing rate for every unit in excess of a customer’s allocation. While metered irrigation accounts are the easiest to track, the SFPUC is asking all of its retail customers to comply. Edible food gardens and areas that are irrigated with non-potable water are exempted.

Concurrently, the SFPUC will also be implementing an education-first plan to reduce wasteful outdoor water use by prohibiting certain water-wasting activities, which include:

  • Watering outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes excess runoff;
  • Using a hose, without a shut-off nozzle, for any purpose;
  • Using drinking water in non- recirculating fountains or decorative water devices; and,
  • Washing down driveways/sidewalks except for health and safety purposes.

The exemption for health and safety purposes is strictly limited to: the removal of human and animal waste; the removal of liquids and substances that cause odors, sticky, slick and unsafe conditions for pedestrians; and, the elimination of conditions that attract insects and vermin.

Reports of water waste will be tracked through 311. The SFPUC will be focusing on education and training, not policing and fining. Reported water wasters will be sent a warning notice for reported violations. Only after three warning notifications, clear documentation, and a site-visit by SFPUC staff, will citations be considered. Fines will start at $100 per violation and will require approval by the SFPUC General Manager before issuance. Fines are a last resort only and appeals will be routed through the City Controller’s office.

The new regulations will assist San Francisco in meetings its 10% conservation request. Fortunately, customers have consistently met and exceeded the 10% voluntary conservation request this summer. This savings-spree is making up for lost time earlier in the year when customers were not meeting their goals.

–          Total Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System storage stands at 61% of maximum storage capacity.

–          As of August 4, total water savings has dramatically swelled to 3.9 billion gallons of water – almost triple from what it was on June 23.

–          If the current conservation trend continues, the SFPUC projects meeting the 10% savings goal for the entire year.  This will stave off the need for additional system wide water restrictions this year.

“We don’t know when this drought will end,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr.  “The mandatory outdoor irrigation reduction is a small, but important step as we continue conserving and diversifying our precious water supplies.”

About SFPUC
The SFPUC provides reliable, high quality drinking water to 2.6 million customers in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda counties. Updates and additional information will be available at sfwater.org/conservation.

West Coast Commercial Real Estate News