The use of on-site alternate water sources is key in managing our water portfolio. A range of approaches are available, from rainwater harvesting for irrigation to blackwater treatment and reuse for toilet flushing. An example of a building employing these technologies is the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) headquarters building located at 525 Golden Gate Avenue.
In September 2012, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted Article12C establishing the Alternate Water Source Program. The Alternate Water Source Program includes a permitting process and operational requirements for any new commercial, multi-family, and mixed-use developments in San Francisco that collect, treat, and reuse water for toilet flushing, irrigation and other non-potable uses. In September 2013, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors amended the ordinance to include District-scale systems in which two or more parcels share alternate water sources; in 2015 the law was further modified to make systems mandatory for certain buildings.
The permit process establishes a collaborative mechanism for input and oversight from the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), the SFPUC and the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection Plumbing Inspection Division (SFDBI - PID) 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 (pdf).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you require any individual forms or documents found in the packet.
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.)
Have a certified specialist complete a cross-connection test
SFDPH will issue a startup/temporary permit for a defined duration, followed by a final permit after demonstration of compliance with applicable laws, rules and guidance.
Once a startup/temporary or final permit is issued, the Treatment System Manager conducts specified inspections and tests, submits routine monitoring and annual monitoring reports to SFDPH, and communicates system malfunctions to SFDPH in accordance with the rules and regulations and the permit requirements.
To remain valid, the permit must be renewed by paying an annual license fee to the tax collector each year.