FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2023
SFPUC Invests $7.25 Million in Local Greening and Stormwater Management Projects Across Public School Campuses and Arts Complex
The grants fund improvements to school grounds and other community properties to transform outdoor spaces and divert stormwater during wet weather.
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) today announced new investments totaling $7.25 million for stormwater management projects as part of the Green Infrastructure Grant Program. The SFPUC is providing the grants to six projects to transform local outdoor spaces, reduce flood risk, improve urban habitat, increase climate resilience, and improve coastal water quality.
This latest round of grant recipients includes four from the San Francisco Unified School District:
- Everett Middle School - $1.8 million award
- El Dorado Elementary School - $1.4 million award
- Visitacion Valley Elementary School - $883,000 award
- Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 - $629,000 award
The two other recipients in this round of funding are the University of California, Parnassus ($1.7 million award) and Project Artaud ($684,000 award), a member-run nonprofit artist collective in the Mission District.
“We recently experienced firsthand how extreme storms can affect our city, our region, and our state,” SFPUC General Manager Dennis Herrera said. “Climate change is a problem that we all have to tackle collectively. There is no single solution, but there is a lot we can do when we work together. At the SFPUC, we’re making generational investments to upgrade our sewer system, divert more stormwater, and reduce flooding in low-lying areas. We’re also partnering with our communities and investing in them. I want to thank the leadership of the San Francisco Unified School District, University of California, and Project Artaud for stepping up and joining us in this work. They are taking action to transform large, mostly concrete spaces into green infrastructure that benefits residents, the environment, and citywide stormwater management.”
“We are grateful for the generosity of the SFPUC and for their support in promoting sustainability practices for our students,” SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne said. “The Stormwater Schoolyards are a great way to further instill a culture of environmental stewardship in our students and make the most of our water supply. Not only will this infrastructure help to remove stormwater from our schoolyards, it will teach students about the importance of sustainability and other outdoor learning opportunities.”
The investments in this grant cycle are the largest since the program’s inception in 2019. In addition to the SFPUC investments, an anonymous donor has committed an additional $1 million to further advance and expand Everett Middle School’s project. Specifically, SFUSD’s proposed design at the school will center around a new running track in the main yard, with five rain gardens, 19 trees, and removal of over 25,000 square feet of asphalt. The project also includes a rainwater harvesting cistern. The project will reduce the urban-heat-island effect in the yard, increase biodiversity through the use of native plants, and provide educational opportunities for students through integrated signage. SFUSD is embarking on a community-driven design process together with LotusWater Engineering and Groundworks Studio to design the new schoolyard envisioned by the Everett community.
Other examples of project elements in the grantee designs include rain gardens and dry creek beds in schoolyards that also serve as nature play areas and spaces for outdoor learning.
What is Green Infrastructure?
Green stormwater infrastructure includes things like rain gardens, permeable pavement, rainwater harvesting systems, and living roofs. These improvements provide numerous public health and environmental benefits, including improved neighborhood air quality, increased biodiversity, better street conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians, green jobs, and reduced urban heat, to name a few.
Additionally, green infrastructure specifically supports San Francisco’s combined sewer system, which treats both wastewater and stormwater, by capturing and diverting stormwater away from the system. During severe wet weather, green infrastructure can help reduce pressure on the system’s overall capacity, prevent localized flooding, and reduce stormwater runoff. This was successfully seen in action at the SFPUC’s new Southeast Community Center in the Bayview neighborhood, which is designed to divert large amounts of stormwater runoff through natural processes. During the severe New Year’s Eve storms, the Center’s green infrastructure seamlessly functioned as designed, diverted runoff, and did not reach its full volume capacity. A video of the center’s green infrastructure in action can be found here.
Nearly $18 Million in Grant Investments
The SFPUC’s Green Infrastructure Grant Program funds the design and construction of green stormwater infrastructure on large public and private properties, with the goal of reducing stormwater runoff while delivering public benefits that enhance the quality of life for all SFPUC rate payers. Projects must capture stormwater runoff from at least 0.5 acres of impervious surface and can receive up to $2 million per project. Property owners can learn more about the program and download the grant application here.
Recently completed projects that were part of the grant program include Lafayette Elementary School in the Richmond District and Bessie Carmichael Middle School in the South of Market neighborhood, which collectively can manage up to 1.1 million gallons of stormwater.
Since the launch of the Green Infrastructure Grant Program in February 2019, the SFPUC has awarded at total of $17.8 million in grants to 17 projects. When completed, the projects are designed to capture and divert about 11 million gallons of stormwater per year, or enough to fill nearly 17 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Green infrastructure projects are one element of the SFPUC’s Sewer System Improvement Program, a nearly $7 billion, multi-year citywide investment to upgrade and improve the City’s aging wastewater system. Through this ongoing program and the agency’s 10-year capital plan, the SFPUC is aggressively pursuing a suite of measures to adapt to a changing climate, including the expansion of green infrastructure citywide and a $630 million capital investment in the City’s low-lying neighborhoods.
More information on the SFPUC’s role in citywide climate mitigation and adaptation efforts can be found here and here.
Collectively, the SFPUC’s green infrastructure projects, public grants, and innovative private projects developed through the Stormwater Management Ordinance have the City on track to meet its goal of capturing 1 billion gallons of stormwater using green infrastructure by 2050.
About the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and meets over 70 percent of the electricity demand in San Francisco. 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.