The Onsite Water Reuse Program allows for the collection, treatment, and use of alternate water sources for non-potable applications in individual buildings and at the district-scale.
Who Must Comply?
Onsite water reuse systems are required for new development projects of 250,000 gross square feet or greater in San Francisco.
Onsite water reuse systems represent a significant opportunity to transform the way water is managed in buildings. By matching alternate water sources with the right end use, such as irrigating landscapes and flushing toilets and urinals, onsite water reuse systems offset valuable potable water supplies and unlock the potential for more resilient and sustainable water management. The SFPUC administers the Onsite Water Reuse Program, which allows for the collection, treatment, and use of alternate water sources for non-potable applications in individual buildings and at the district-scale. San Francisco is also part of a national effort through the National Blue Ribbon Commission to overcome barriers to onsite water reuse.
Onsite water reuse systems are required for new, large development projects in San Francisco. Effective since 2015, Article 12C of the San Francisco Health Code (commonly known as the Non-potable Water Ordinance) requires the following:
- New development projects of 250,000 square feet or more of gross floor area that haven’t received a site permit prior to November 1, 2016 are required to install and operate an onsite non-potable water system to treat and reuse available graywater, rainwater, and foundation drainage for toilet and urinal flushing and irrigation, and
- New development projects of 40,000 square feet or more of gross floor area are required to prepare water budget calculations assessing the amount of available rainwater, graywater, and foundation drainage, and the demands for toilet and urinal flushing and irrigation.
Capacity Charges and Excess Use Charges
Effective February 1, 2017, customers with onsite non-potable water systems may receive an adjusted water and wastewater capacity charge. This adjustment will accurately assess capacity charges for buildings with onsite non-potable water systems by charging new users only for the demand placed on SFPUC water and wastewater systems.
Additionally, the SFPUC is currently implementing a Water Use Allocation Program and excess use charges for new development projects required to comply with Article 12C. Projects will be assigned monthly water use allocations based on the project's approved Water Budget Application. Any amount of potable water used in excess of the monthly allocation is subject to excess use charges and will be billed at a rate equal to 300% (3x) the applicable water and wastewater rates.
How Do I Comply?
Refer to the Onsite Water Reuse Program Guidebook for more info.
- Submit a Water Budget Application and Water Use Calculator to SFPUC-Water Resources Division (SFPUC-WRD).
- Submit a Non-potable Implementation Plan to SFPUC-WRD (district-scale projects only).
- Submit Application for Permit to Operate to San Francisco Department of Public Health- Environmental Health (SFDPH-EH).
- Obtain Encroachment Permit from San Francisco Public Works (SFPW) if applicable.
- Obtain Plan Check Approval from San Francisco Department of Building Inspection-Plumbing Inspection Division (SFDBI-PID) and SFDPH-EH and Complete System Construction.
- Conduct a Cross-Connection Test with SFPUC-Water Quality Division (WQD) and Complete Post-Construction Inspection.
- Submit Documentation for a Permit to Operate from SFDPH-EH.
- Obtain a Permit to Operate from SFDPH-EH.
- Operate in Conditional Startup Mode.
- Operate in Final Use Mode with SFDPH-EH Approval.
Project Submittal Resources
- SFDPH-EH Rules and Regulations
- Onsite Water Reuse Program Guidebook
- Onsite Water Reuse Program Factsheet
- Blueprint for Onsite Water Systems
- Case Studies of San Francisco Non-potable Water Projects
- Case Studies of Innovative Water Reuse and Resource Recovery Projects
- Case Studies of Water Recycling Projects Around the World
- Implementing OneWaterSF: Onsite Reuse Factsheet
- Synergies for Compliance with the NPO and SMO Guidebook
- Submittal Requirements for Projects Subject to the SMO and NPO
- Non-potable Water System Resources List
- Validated UV List
- CCSF Certified Backflow Testers
View our Water Reuse Wednesday’s webinars to learn key updates and technical guidance on implementing an onsite water reuse system in San Francisco.
National Blue Ribbon Commission for Onsite Non-potable Water Systems
We are at the forefront of innovation in advancing onsite water reuse in North America. As chair of the National Blue Ribbon Commission for Onsite Non-potable Water Systems, the SFPUC is leading a national collaborative of municipalities, water utilities and public health agencies from 14 states, the District of Columbia, US EPA, and US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, the city of Vancouver, and the city of Toronto.
The National Blue Ribbon Commission advances best management practices to support the use of onsite non-potable water systems in individual buildings and at the local scale. The National Blue Ribbon Commission is focused on addressing key institutional and regulatory barriers to widespread adoption of onsite non-potable water systems. Efforts have included developing a risk-based water quality framework for onsite water reuse and establishing model policies for municipalities that support local implementation of onsite water reuse.
For more information and access to the National Blue Ribbon Commission’s resources, visit www.watereuse.org/nbrc.
SFPUC Onsite Water Reuse Program
SF Public Works Encroachment Permits
SF Department of Building Inspection - Plumbing Inspection Division