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Rainwater Harvesting

Green rain barrel

Rainwater harvesting is the practice of collecting and using rainwater from hard surfaces such as roofs for applications like landscape irrigation or toilet flushing. Rainwater harvesting systems  can be as simple as using a small home-made rain barrel or  installing a large underground cistern or storage tank. By capturing  any amount of rainwater and reusing it, you help reduce runoff  volume and delay and reduce the peak runoff flows from residential  and commercial sites. Other benefits of rainwater harvesting  include:
  • Keeping relatively clean water out of the combined sewer system and make it available for use
  • Reducing the energy and chemicals needed to treat stormwater in San Francisco’s combined sewer and the energy expended transporting water from far away
  • Reducing the volume and peak flows of stormwater entering the sewer, thereby reducing flooding and combined sewer overflows
  • Reducing the need to use drinking water for landscape irrigation and toilet flushing
Residential Rain Barrel Program - apply soon, supplies are going fast!
The SFPUC is pleased to provide a limited number free 50-gallon rain barrels and downspout diverter kits to eligible single-family and two-unit homes in San Francisco. To apply to the Residential Rain Barrel Program, please review the program guidelines below and submit completed applications and required photos to

Free rain barrels and downspout diverter kits will be available on a first-come first-serve basis while supplies last. In early 2016, we will be expanding our rain barrel program to include discounts on larger capacity cisterns, as well as modifying the rain barrel program to provide discounts on up to two rain barrels per home. If you would like to be notified when the new rainwater harvesting discount program launches, please email us at

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Last updated: 11/23/2015 4:08:59 PM