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Innovation in Urban Water Systems

On May 29-30, 2014, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission hosted a dedicated group of water agencies, public health departments, and research institutions from across North America to discuss onsite water treatment systems at the Innovation in Urban Water Systems Meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to share knowledge and lessons learned in order to achieve our mutual goals of overcoming institutional barriers to onsite water treatment.

To continue the momentum from the May 2014 convening, the group developed the “Blueprint for Onsite Water Systems: A Step-by-Step Guide for Developing a Local Program to Manage Onsite Water Systems”. The Blueprint serves as a how-to guide for communities interested in implementing an onsite water treatment program.

In 2015, a group of state public health officials began engaging in a process to develop a water quality regulatory framework for onsite water treatment systems. The collaboration is working toward identifying appropriate water quality standards and monitoring regimes for onsite systems that are protective of public health. The end goal is to create a set of guidelines which local agencies can consult when developing onsite water treatment programs in their communities.


The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the U.S. Water Alliance are partnering to convene the National Blue Ribbon Commission to Accelerate the Adoption of Onsite Water Reuse to develop and advance policy and regulatory recommendations that support implementation of onsite water reuse projects. While communities have begun to deploy onsite water programs to treat and reuse water for irrigation, toilet flushing, and cooling, scaling of these systems has been stymied due to a number of institutional and regulatory barriers. The Blue Ribbon Commission will provide actionable recommendations for consideration by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and also foster state-level peer exchange and learning among water utilities and state public health agencies who are working to establish standards and practices for onsite water reuse.

The National Blue Ribbon Commission was recently announced at the White House Water Summit:


The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) plans to draft a statewide policy for onsite water systems collecting and treating alternate waters sources (graywater, blackwater, rainwater, stormwater, and foundation drainage) in commercial, multi-family and mixed-use buildings in California. The policy will cover a number of guidelines, including water quality criteria and monitoring requirements, allowed alternate water sources and end uses, permitting and operational strategies. The Alliance for Water Efficiency will assist the SFPUC with outreach.
Last updated: 4/15/2016 4:31:24 PM