Water is too precious a resource to use just once. Recycled water offers a new water source for non-drinking purposes in San Francisco. Developing recycled water in San Francisco provides us with a drought-resistant and sustainable water source for uses such as park and golf course irrigation and toilet flushing, thus conserving valuable drinking water.
The City and County of San Francisco’s Recycled Water Ordinance requires property owners to install recycled water systems in new construction, modification, or remodel projects. The goal of the Ordinance is to maximize the use of recycled water. Buildings and facilities that are located within the designated recycled water use areas are required to use recycled water for all uses authorized by the State of California.
Do the requirements apply to my project?
Recycled Water Use At a Glance
To supplement San Francisco’s imported water supplies and save valuable drinking water, recycled water will be used for applications such as landscape irrigation, toilet/urinal flushing, cooling and water features.
Who Must Comply?
Owners of properties within designated recycled water use areas (see map to left) that have: (1) 40,000 square feet or more of new construction or major alterations to a building; (2) are subdivisions; or (3) have 10,000 square feet or more of new or existing landscaping not constructed in conjunction with a development project.
Public Works Code, Article 22
November 7, 1991
See the Procedures for Developers.
Recycled Water Program
The requirements of the Recycled Water Ordinance apply to properties located within the designated recycled water use areas (see map below) under the following circumstances:
- New construction or major alterations to a building totaling 40,000 square feet or more
- All subdivisions
- New and existing irrigated areas of 10,000 square feet or more not constructed in conjunction with a development project
In a mixed-use residential building where a recycled water system is installed, any restaurant or other retail food-handling establishment must be supplied by a separate potable water system to ensure public health and safety.
To determine if a property is in a designated recycled water use area, enter the property address (e.g., “525 Golden Gate, San Francisco”) in the mapping tool below. Be sure to include “San Francisco” in your search. If the property appears in the purple-colored area and meets at least one of the criteria above, then the project may need to comply with the requirements of the Ordinance.
View Larger Map
How do I comply?
Property owners whose properties meet the criteria listed in the section above are required to install recycled water systems for all applicable State of California approved uses. Some of the common uses include irrigation, cooling, and/or toilet and urinal flushing. These systems must meet San Francisco Plumbing and Health Codes, which include specifications for pipe type, pipe separation, backflow prevention assemblies, water meters, and signage.
See the Procedures for Developers and the SFPUC Memo regarding Implementation of Recycled Water Use Regulations for more information.
What about using recycled water at construction sites?
Another important City and County of San Francisco ordinance related to recycled water use is the Restriction of Use of Potable Water for Soil Compaction and Dust Control Activities Ordinance (Public Works Code, Article 21), which restricts the use of potable water for soil compaction and dust control activities associated with any construction project in the City and County of San Francisco. Recycled water is available from the SFPUC for dust control on roads and streets. However, per State regulations, recycled water cannot be used for demolition, pressure washing, or dust control through aerial spraying.
Be sure to check the Recycled Water Ordinance brochure
for more detailed information.
If you have a specific question about the recycled water ordinance, its applicability to your project, or any of the information on this web page, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These resources provide more information about San Francisco's Recycled Water requirements: