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How to Comply with the Bottled Water Ban

On January 20th, 2017, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (BOS) and the Mayor passed Ordinance No. 009-17, amending the Environment Code to restrict the sale or distribution of packaged water on City property. Packaged water is defined as water in a sealed box, bag, can, glass bottle, rigid plastic bottle or other container and having a capacity of one liter or less. In order to ensure continued access to drinking water during events, the City is working to expand availability of potable water in public areas. Following these guidelines, event producers can choose the most effective way of providing potable water to their participants given the scale and specifications of their event.

HH Igloo with cups

Encouraging participants to maintain good hydration and make healthy beverage choices.

When considering event layout, sponsors should make an effort to place bottle filling stations in convenient locations, as well as provide an adequate number of stations to prevent long lines. In addition to commonly identified map points such as restrooms and first aid booths, hydration stations should be prominently labeled on event materials and signage. Vendors selling beverages must be provided with a sign/language explaining the Packaged Water Ban, along with directions to the nearest hydration station. Additionally, event sponsors should encourage participants to bring refillable bottles so that they can easily access the fill stations and remain hydrated throughout the event.

Public water sources in San Francisco.

The SFPUC maintains and ensures the quality of water up to the meter. Owners of public or private properties are responsible for ensuring the quality of water on site. If there appears to be aesthetic (i.e. taste, color, odor, etc.) or health problems, or if you have general concerns with your water, please contact 311 for assistance. The SFPUC regularly tests water quality within facilities/private property for a nominal fee. 

It is the responsibility of the event sponsor to protect the water from being tampered and/or contaminated at any point after the meter connection. The following considerations should be made when determining how the water will be provided to attendees after the point of connection to the meter:

  • Any piping and fittings used to deliver the water to attendees should be above grade and protected from any possible contamination by pests or fecal matter on ground level.
  • Flushing pipes or fixtures should be conducted daily.
  • The use of end caps is recommended to prevent cross contamination when the fixture or piping is not connected or in use.
  • All fittings and plumbing fixtures material must comply with the plumbing code.
  • Qualified personnel as determined by the event sponsor should conduct the installation, preparation and maintenance of the water containers, fixtures, and fittings to the meter connection
  • If it is determined that the water quality is contaminated or compromised after the meter connection, it is the responsibility of the event sponsor to shut-off the supply and rectify the situation.

Making more permanent public water sources available.

Since 2010, we have installed outdoor water bottle refilling stations ("tap stations") around the City as part of our Drink Tap Program. Drink Tap aims to provide everyone with free access to high-quality Hetch Hetchy tap water while on the go. Our tap stations enable you to reuse your own container rather than purchase costly single-use bottled water.

The SFPUC does not grant access to certain water sources for events.

Below grade connections (such as sidewalk vaults) are not allowed due to concerns for cross-contamination of the water supply. Access points on private businesses may in fact be an option for potable water for an event, but the water from such a source is metered through the private property owner. The City does not have jurisdiction to provide access to private water for public events. If such a water source is used, an agreement must be reached between the event producer and the property owner.

Educating Event Producers on the Packaged Water Ban

SF Environment (a Department of the City and County of San Francisco) holds Zero Waste Event Workshops two to four times a year.  These workshops include information and resources on how event producers can comply with the Packaged Water Ban.  For more information or to sign up to attend a workshop, contact environment@sfgov.org.

Waivers for the Packaged Water Ban

A waiver of the Packaged Water Ban requirements in full or in part may be granted by SF Environment if it is clearly demonstrated that the strict application of the requirement would not be feasible, would create an undue hardship or practical difficulty, or that circumstances otherwise warrant granting of the waiver.  Please email all waiver requests, including detailed justification for the request to: environment@sfgov.org.

Last updated: 3/9/2017 4:57:29 PM