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Stormwater Design Guidelines

The San Francisco Stormwater Design Guidelines (Guidelines) describe the requirements for stormwater management in San Francisco and give developers the tools to achieve compliance. The Guidelines were adopted by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on January 12, 2010. The Stormwater Management Ordinance is effective May 22, 2010.

Amendments to the 2010 Stormwater Design Guidelines:

NEW! Modified Compliance

The UWMP acknowledges that some projects subject to the Stormwater Management Ordinance have more challenging site conditions than others. With this in mind, we have developed the Modified Compliance Program to allow development projects with proven site challenges and limitations to modify the standard stormwater performance measures set by the SDG.  The Modified Compliance Program:

  • Applies only to projects in the Combined Sewer System (CSS)
  • Evaluates site limitations including: high groundwater, shallow depth to bedrock, poorly infiltrating soils, contamination, and zero lot-line projects
  • Assesses project potential for non-potable demand
  • Modifies volume and peak rate reduction requirements based site-specific constraints
  • Is not available for projects with already approved Preliminary or Final SCPs

To have your project evaluated for Modified Compliance a completed Modified Compliance Application must be submitted to the SDG Review Team at prior to submitting a Preliminary SCP.

BMP Sizing Calculators

Hydrologic Calculation Methods and Background Information

Stormwater Control Plan 

Please send all Stormwater Control Plans to:

SFPUC-SCP Project Reviewer
c/o Ken Kortkamp
SFPUC, Wastewater Enterprise
525 Golden Gate, 11th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102    

Pre-Application Meeting
The SDG Review Team suggests that each project schedule a pre-application meeting early during the planning and team building process. Early coordination with the SDG Review Team will minimize design challenges and project schedule delays.
In order to streamline the scheduling of pre-application meetings, the SDG Project Review Team is implementing open office hours that will be available exclusively for project proponents to schedule a 30-60 minute pre-application meeting. Henceforth, the SDG Project Review team will ONLY be available for Pre-Application meetings Tuesdays from 1-4pm and Thursdays 10am-1pm. Please contact the SDG Project Review Team at to schedule a meeting.

Project Review

New and redevelopment projects built in San Francisco can create increases in stormwater flows that can affect San Francisco’s wet weather capacity and permit compliance. SFPUC conducts project review to ensure that new and redevelopment projects reduce their impacts on the wastewater system. This review process applies to all projects disturbing 5,000 square feet or more of the ground surface, including emerging communities like Hunters Point Shipyard, Treasure Island, Visitacion Valley, and Executive Park. For more information about the Wastewater Planning and Regulatory Compliance Division’s Project review procedures, please email

Technical Assistance

Both public and private developers have expressed enthusiasm for green stormwater management technologies. The SFPUC provides technical assistance so that Low Impact Design (LID) techniques are properly and safely implemented. If you’d like feedback on a project or need direction on LID concepts, please email  

What are Stormwater Design Guidelines?

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the Port of San Francisco (Port) partnered to develop the San Francisco Stormwater Design Guidelines. The Guidelines require new development and redevelopment disturbing 5,000 square feet or more of the ground surface to manage stormwater on-site. The Guidelines show project applicants how to achieve on-site stormwater management using low impact design (LID) strategies, also known as green infrastructure. These strategies include vegetated roofs, swales, rainwater harvesting, and rain gardens. The Guidelines protect San Francisco's environment by reducing pollution in stormwater runoff in areas of new development and redevelopment and by reducing the wet weather burden on San Francisco's combined sewer.

Is My Project in the Combined or Separate Sewer System?

The Stormwater Design Guidelines performance measure requirements vary depending on whether your project is located in an area served by the Combined Sewer or Separate Sewer. Use the map to determine which type of sewer system your project is served by.

What is stormwater runoff and why is it a concern?

Stormwater runoff is rainwater that flows over the land surface and through collection pipes. In vegetated areas such as forests, fields and wetlands, rainwater seeps slowly into the ground, limiting runoff. However, when rain falls on paved concrete and other hard (impervious) surfaces such as those found in most of San Francisco, it runs off quickly and is conveyed by pipes and other drainage features. Though starting as relatively pure rainwater, stormwater runoff collects pollutants as it flows over impervious surfaces. For example, runoff from parking lots picks up oil and grease from leaking engines, copper from worn brake linings, and zinc from tires. Although most runoff in San Francisco flows into the combined sewer system and receives treatment at the city's two sewage treatment plants, there are a few areas in the city that discharge directly into San Francisco Bay or other surface water such as Lake Merced without receiving any treatment. These polluted stormwater flows can be detrimental to aquatic and other life. The Guidelines will help improve San Francisco's environment by reducing pollution in water that runs to the bay or other waters from newly constructed facilities.

How can San Francisco help reduce the detrimental impacts of stormwater runoff?

One way to help reduce the detrimental impacts of stormwater runoff is by changing the way we approach new construction. New development and redevelopment projects can be designed to minimize pollutant exposure within the project area. Through careful pre-construction planning and designing, new development and redevelopment projects can be built to: 

  • Minimize impervious surfaces, which would allow more rainfall to soak into the ground
  • Reduce the volume and intensity of storm water runoff, which would reduce flows that end up in the receiving waters
  • Convey and treat storm water runoff using landscape features and other green systems to provide treatment to the pollutants in the runoff

Studies performed around the world show that proactive site planning and design is the most cost-effective approach for reducing stormwater pollution.

Is San Francisco required to develop Stormwater Design Guidelines?

Yes - in separate sewer areas a Clean Water Act discharge permit administered by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) requires local agencies to develop programs for the control of stormwater runoff for the life of a project (post-construction control of stormwater). The Guidelines comply with the mandate of this permit, while at the same time providing a vehicle through which planners, designers, engineers and developers can work together toward a more sustainable city. In combined sewer areas the Guidelines compliment the goals of the city-wide Green Building Ordinance and help to reduce the burden of wet weather flows on the combined sewer system.

How can I stay informed and get involved?

Be a part of the solution and help us improve San Francisco's environment through innovative stormwater management. Check back for project updates and upcoming meetings and events.

For More Information Contact:
Last updated: 7/22/2014 5:15:29 PM