Asked Questions
Environmental Health

Water Quality Program

The goal of the Water Quality Program is to ensure safe water for drinking and recreational use. Unsafe drinking water can lead to a bacterial or viral infection, particularly in vulnerable populations such as young children. Maintaining safe conditions in recreational areas, such as swimming pools, helps prevent persons from drowning and the spread of infectious diseases.

Principal Activities and Services

  • Inspect and sample water at recreational swimming areas and facilities.
  • Monitor sewage discharge to the ocean and bay.
  • Certify backflow prevention device testers and inspect facilities for cross connections.
  • Implement the State's annual mussel quarantine program.
  • Review and approve plans for the construction and destruction of wells and swimming pools/spas.
  • Inspect soil borings for wells.
  • Implement the State's fish advisory posting program.
  • Act as a resource to the Public Utilities Commission with regard to health issues related to drinking water.
  • Provide immediate support and response to events that raise health implications and concerns.

Obtaining Permits and Certificates

Backflow Assembly Tester Certification

Backflow Prevention Testers protect potable drinking water sources by preventing contamination with unsafe water sources, such as waste water, at cross connections. For more information on cross connections and backflow tester certification, click here.

Non-Potable Water

TheĀ On-Site Water Reuse for Commercial, Multi-Family, and Mixed-Use DevelopmentsĀ Ordinance (pdf) authorized the San Francisco Department of Public Health to issue rules and regulations regarding the operation of alternate water source systems. For more information on this ordinance, click here.

Compostable Toilets

In collaboration with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, SFDPH is piloting a project to allow installation of compostable toilets in selected settings. Potential projects may submit an application for this pilot project for consideration.

Swimming Pool and Spa Permits and Related Documents

The San Francisco Health Code requires all public pools and spa pools to be licensed and have a valid Permit to Operate. For more information on swimming pools and spas and how to obtain a permit to operate, click here.

Well Construction/Destruction Permits

A permit is required to construct or destroy an environmental or geotechnical well or soil boring. For permitting information, click here.

Well Permit to Operate

A permit to operate is required for all monitoring wells, geotechnical wells, or production wells. For permitting information, click here.

Making a Complaint

If you are in a swimming pool or spa facility and see any of the following situations, report it to the Department of Public Health as soon as possible.

  • Unable to see pool bottom
  • Main drain grate missing or broken
  • Lack of daily maintenance to the pool
  • Chemical balance not maintained
  • Unsanitary locker rooms or showers

To make a complaint, click here.

Related Agencies

Department of Public Works

Department of Building Inspections

San Francisco Public Utility Commission