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SFPUC Wins Agency of the Year Award for Water Recycling Strategies

SFPUC Staff Accept the WateReuse Award
  • Natalie Stone

Those who know the industry well have spoken. When it comes to recycling water, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is at the top.

This week the WateReuse Association (WRA) of California celebrated the innovative strategies of the SFPUC by awarding the agency the Recycled Water Agency of the Year Award in the medium-sized utility category. The WRA is a not-for-profit trade association that works to promote safe and long-lasting water management. With members representing over 60 million utility customers, the WRA lobbies for increased government resources to empower communities and businesses to adopt water recycling. 

“Innovation has been at the heart of the SFPUC since it started over 100 years ago,” the WateReuse Association wrote in a statement announcing the award winners. “The SFPUC is continuing in this tradition as it seeks innovative solutions to address its water challenges. Under the OneWaterSF umbrella, the SFPUC is actively promoting water use efficiency and developing new local water supplies, including recycled water and onsite water reuse.”

Sustainable water management has always been at the forefront of the SFPUC’s mission. Serving over 2.7 million Bay Area residents, the agency is committed to delivering clean drinking water and leading the utility industry in finding solutions to the challenges our water supply faces.

“We recognize that solving our water challenges will require multiple solutions at various scales,” General Manager Dennis Herrera said as part of his welcoming remarks at the morning session of the conference. “It’s something we’ve put a lot of hard work into. For more than 30 years, the SFPUC has been encouraging water conservation and water-use efficiency. Today, San Franciscans are among the most efficient water users in the state.”

The Recycled Water Agency of the Year Award identifies contributions toward a shared goal. The WRA specifically applauded the SFPUC's innovation in testing atmospheric water generation and creating funding for onsite water recycling facilities at a legacy San Francisco brewery. Anchor Brewing Company used one of the SFPUC's grants in January 2021 to install water recycling equipment with the capacity to save 20 million gallons of water per year. That is the equivalent of 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools. It also makes Anchor's facility the largest commercial water reuse project in the history of San Francisco.

OneWaterSF, the guiding framework that prioritizes community partnership and ecosystem preservation, was also acknowledged for developing new local water supplies. The SFPUC has diversified its water supply through the Green Infrastructure Grant Program, which utilizes green infrastructure to capture 220 million gallons of stormwater annually. Additionally, the Onsite Water Reuse Grant Program provides businesses like Anchor Brewing Company the financial and technical support to install onsite non-potable water treatment systems. This program will result in nearly 38 million gallons of water saved annually. The active role in encouraging water efficiency has had a clear impact, as San Franciscans use roughly half of the statewide average water daily.

The many dedicated employees of the SFPUC are honored to be recognized as stewards of water reuse advancement and are excited to continue to develop equitable, environmentally conscious policies that best suit our water systems.