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SFPUC Urges Customers to Reduce Outdoor Water Use

Water Wise Evaluation: Homeowner Peter Monks, left, receives a water wise evaluation from Andrew Ho, right, a Water Service Technician at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

John Coté

May 24, 2022

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Urges Customers to Reduce Outdoor Water Use

Agency takes action to enter level 2 of drought plan

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) moved today to further reduce systemwide water use to align with calls for conservation by Governor Gavin Newsom and the State Water Quality Control Board. In doing so, agency leaders emphasized that customers must reduce outdoor water use this summer to maintain water supplies. The SFPUC’s action moves the agency into Level 2 of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan at an 11% systemwide use reduction, highlighting the continued need for water conservation throughout the Bay Area, particularly outdoor use. More than 2.7 million residents and businesses in Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties rely on the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System for their drinking water.

“It's critical that all of our customers reduce outdoor water use this summer,” SFPUC General Manager Dennis Herrera said. “Even though our customers are among the lowest water users in the state, we are in year three of a drought, and no one knows how long it will last. We must all take action to continue to ensure that we have sufficient water supplies.” 

The SFPUC declared a Water Shortage Emergency in November 2021, which included a call for a 10% reduction of water use among all SFPUC customers, both in San Francisco and in the wider Bay Area it serves. At that time, San Francisco highlighted continued conservation efforts, including permanent mandatory water waste restrictions, already in effect since the 2015 drought. The November action also enacted a temporary 5% drought surcharge on SFPUC retail customers, which took effect April 1, 2022. 

Today, the SFPUC Commission adopted a systemwide water use reduction of 11% compared to baseline water use during Fiscal Year 2019-2020. The voluntary 11% reduction is associated with Shortage Level 2 of the agency’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP), in alignment with State requirements. The reduction will be effective July 1, 2022. 

The SFPUC and its regional customers continue to raise awareness about the drought and encourage water conservation. This continuing outreach campaign includes digital advertisements on multiple channels in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Tagalog, electronic billboards along Bay Area Highways, SFMTA bus placards, bill inserts and newsletters, and collaborations with our Bay Area partners. Water use for irrigation typically increases during warm summer months. To meet our savings goals, reducing outdoor water use will be crucial this summer. 

“The members of the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA), representing water users in Alameda, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties under state law, supports the SFPUC'S request for further water use reductions and Governor Newsom's continuing water-conservation leadership in California,” said Nicole Sandkulla, BAWSCA CEO. “BAWSCA is committed to continued conservation to ensure preservation of the precious supply the Bay Area relies upon.”  

The SFPUC provides free resources to its customers to reduce their water use, including free water wise evaluations indoors and outdoors; free water efficient fixtures such as faucet aerators and showerheads; and rebates on water efficient appliances. Learn more at Customers within the wholesale region can find water conservation resources at

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 and delivers 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