FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2021
SFPUC Announces Expansion of Leak Alert Program
As drought conditions persist, program to automatically notify customers about potential leaks is expanded to include large multi-family, commercial and industrial properties
San Francisco, CA – As the state continues to grapple with dry weather conditions, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is expanding its innovative Leak Alert program, which notifies customers of continuous water use. The expanded program will now notify commercial and industrial properties and larger multi-family buildings, along with continuing to send leak alerts to single and small multi-family properties and irrigation accounts.
“I applaud SFPUC for this proactive move to expand the City’s Leak Alert program during such a critical time,” said Mayor London Breed. “As we face historic drought, we need to do everything we can to fix leaks, protect our water supply and reduce costs for our residents and local businesses.”
The SFPUC has long been a leader among water utilities in using automated metering and associated technology to improve its services. The agency was the first large utility in California to fully automate its meters, allowing it to provide more timely water use data to customers.
“As long at this drought continues, we need to save water however we can, and oftentimes that means simply fixing leaking pipes, faucets and toilets,” said SFPUC Acting General Manager Michael Carlin. “By expanding our Leak Alert Program, we can help our customers save a critical amount of water while also reducing their monthly bill. By partnering the expansion of this program with our innovative water reuse and recycling initiatives, the SFPUC is continuing to practice responsible and efficient water stewardship.”
The Leak Alert program alerts customers when they have three days of non-stop water use, which could mean they have a plumbing leak. For commercial, industrial, and multi-family properties more than three dwelling units, the SFPUC also screens for increases of 50 percent and more in water use over the past 90 days, as well as spikes in nightly water use, in addition to the constant use monitoring. In the last fiscal year, the Leak Alert program saved SFPUC customers an estimated 47 million gallons of water.
The King George Hotel in the City’s Union Square District is one the local businesses that has benefitted from the expanded Leak Alert program. The SFPUC notified the hotel after analyzing water usage data, which indicated that the business was using more than 200 gallons per hour of water than typical.
“The King George hotel prides itself on green practices and does so by reducing waste, saving energy and reducing water usage,” said King George Hotel General Manager Jaime Gonzalez. “We do daily checks of the hotel property to ensure there are no issues such as physical damage, leaks, electrical issues etc. I was surprised when I received an email notifying us that there was an unusual amount of water being used so we immediately contacted SF water to determine what the possible source could be. We ended up replacing some toilet parts that we found in some guest rooms that were showing minimal leaking along with a pump on our roof and ended up resolving this issue that otherwise could have continued until we received the water bill."
The SFPUC provides many resources to help customers fix leaks. Customers are encouraged to have a current email address and phone number on file, so that they can be reached in a timely manner if their property appears to have a leak. San Francisco customers who register to pay their bills online through MyAccount also can track their water use on a daily or even hourly basis to detect water waste.
Along with expanding the agency’s Leak Alert program, the SFPUC set a goal of reducing water use 15 percent below 2020 levels throughout its service area—an initiative that meets the goal that Governor Newsom requested for the state.
The SFPUC also has imposed permanent water waste restrictions in San Francisco. Those include avoiding runoff from irrigation and outdoor cleaning and limiting hosing of sidewalks and hardscapes to only address health and safety needs.
Additionally, the agency offers many resources to encourage efficient water use for customers. These include free onsite irrigation checkups and landscape evaluations, and extensive indoor water-saving assistance, including free replacement of old residential toilets, rebates for efficient clothes washers and other equipment, and home and business conservation consultations. More information is available at www.sfpuc.org/savewater
Along with those consumer-focused measures, the SFPUC has been a national leader in onsite water reuse which allows for the collection, treatment, and use of alternate water sources for non-potable applications in individual buildings. The SFPUC is also expanding its water recycling programs, which reuse water for non-drinking purposes such as landscape irrigation, toilet flushing and street cleaning.
The SFPUC provides drinking water to 2.7 million people throughout the Bay Area. The water comes from a combination of sources, including Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite and five reservoirs in the Bay Area. Additionally, since 2017, the SFPUC has been adding groundwater into its blend or sources.
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 www.sfpuc.org.