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San Francisco Health Network
Environmental Health

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San Francisco Health Code:

Article 12A Backflow

Article 12C Alternate Water

12C Rules and Regs (pdf)

SFDPH Fee Schedule

California Recycled Water Codes

Statutes (pdf)

Regulations (pdf)

Other Websites

SFPUC Non-Potable

SFDBI Plumbing

CA Dept Water Resources

Related Documents

Application Packet (pdf)

SFPUC Guidebook (pdf)

Engineering Report Instructions & Template (pdf)

Engineering Report Template (Word Template)

O&M Manual Template (Word Template)

O&M Manual Template (pdf version)

Backflow for SFHC 12C Systems (pdf)

Related Programs

Water Quality Home

Cross Connection Program

Alternate Water Source Systems

Alternate water sources are a critical component to management of our city's water portfolio. Since 2012, we have enforced Article 12C of the San Francisco Health Code to oversee the collection, treatment, and reuse of rainwater, stormwater, graywater and other alternate water sources for toilet flushing, irrigation and other non-potable uses in commercial, multi-family, mixed-use, and multi-parcel developments. In 2015, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors made these systems mandatory for certain buildings.


The permit process is a collaboration among SFDPH Environmental Health Branch, the SFPUC and the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection Plumbing Inspection Division. Together these three agencies provide input and oversight on the design, construction, and operation of alternate water source systems. The permit process from project conceptualization to startup is summarized below. More details are described in the step-by-step guidebook available on the SFPUC website and


SFDPH's Rules and Regulations for Alternate Water Source Systems were revised in June 2020 after incorporating changes based on stakeholder comments on the August 2017 revision.

Permit Process and Operational Requirements

A complete application packet contains forms and documents relevant to obtaining a permit for an Alternate Water Source system under Article 12C. Please contact if you require any individual forms or documents found in the packet.

The permitting process includes:



  2. Submit an Application for Permit to Operate Alternate Water Source System and Engineering Report along with the appropriate fee to SFDPH-EH for review and approval.
  3. Please refer to the Detailed Instructions for completing the Engineering Report, including sample tables for water quality design criteria.

  4. SFDPH Environmental Health Branch Senior Health Inspector will issue a letter of approval.

  5. Submit Plumbing Plans to SFDBI Plumbing Inspection Division and make sure to have them routed to SFDPH Environmental Health Branch for Plan Check.

  6. Construct System

  7. Submit to SFDPH a Construction Certification Letter, a Treatment System Manager affidavit of Knowledge Skills and Abilities, a copy of the contract with the Certified Laboratory, and an Operations and Maintenance Manual (refer to the Rules and Regulations and find forms, examples and templates in the Application Packet; in addition a template is available for ensuring the Operations and Maintenance Manual contains all required elements.)

  8. Have a certified specialist complete a cross-connection test

  9. SFDPH Environmental Health Branch will issue a permit which has more stringent conditions for testing and reporting during a conditional startup period; after demonstration of compliance with the startup conditions, the permit switches to "Final Use Mode" in which reporting requirements are less frequent. All permitted systems must conduct specified inspections and tests, submit routine reports to SFDPH Environmental Health, and communicate system malfunctions to the Program in accordance with the rules and regulations and the permit requirements.

  10. To remain valid, the permit must be renewed by paying an annual license fee to the tax collector each year.

For questions or additional assistance, please email