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SFPUC Prepares for Wet Weather Season With Changes to Increase Access to Floodwater Grant Program
New updates will offer upfront funding for qualified homes and businesses seeking to make stormwater resiliency improvements
Posted Date: 10/8/2020 10:00 AM
San Francisco, CA – With rain forecast for parts of the Bay Area this weekend and the official start of the wet weather season set for October 15, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is updating its Floodwater Management Grant Assistance Program to make it easier for residential and commercial property owners to access this vital resource and help minimize the impacts of heavy rains on their properties. 


“With weather patterns becoming increasingly more uncertain due to climate change, it is essential that the SFPUC works closely with our residents and businesses to prepare for the rainy season,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “By making this grant program easier to access, we are empowering the public to make the changes necessary to protect their homes and businesses. By working together, we can adapt to the challenges presented by climate change.”

Established in 2013, the floodwater grant program reimburses residents and businesses up to $100,000 for installing flood protection projects on their property. Under the new program modifications, which were recently approved by the SFPUC Commission, owner-occupied, residential property owners who demonstrate financial hardship and eligible small businesses and non-profit organizations can now receive an up-front grant payment of up to $1,000 for contractor deposits to secure work, and reimbursement for the final installment grant payment to be based on submission only of an invoice (as opposed to proof of payment).  

In addition, for eligible small businesses and non-profit organizations with a maximum of 50 full-time employees, the grantee cost-share for projects has been reduced from 20 percent to 0 percent. 

The SFPUC encourages property owners experiencing sewage back-up inside their homes every time it rains, to take advantage of the Floodwater Grant that would cover the cost of installing a backwater valve to remedy the issue. Other project examples under the grant program include installing flood barriers on the doorsteps or driveways, water-resistant seals, sump pumps, or other projects that could benefit the particular property based on its characteristics. 


Modifying the floodwater grant program is just one of several ways that the SFPUC works with the community to help prepare for the rainy season. In the events of heavy rain forecasts, the SFPUC deploys crews to clean catch basins with high-powered vacuum trucks, assigns employees to proactively monitor low-lying areas of the City that are prone to flooding and assembles on-call teams to clear leaves and debris from the top of catch basins. The agency also deploys temporary interlocking flood barriers along 17th and Folsom Streets, a low-lying area with increased flood risks.


The SFPUC will continue the successful implementation of its Adopt-a-Drain and Rain Guardians programs which allow San Franciscans to “adopt” one of the City’s 25,000 drains (or catch-basins) or so far available 69 rain gardens with the pledge that they will clean and maintain the assets to reduce the risk of flooding. 


Last year, the SFPUC launched an innovative new grant program to fund green infrastructure projects on public and private properties throughout San Francisco. That program encourages owners of large, impervious parcels to pursue green infrastructure improvements that will reduce stormwater runoff and improve the City’s collection system performance during wet weather. 

As part of comprehensive flood resilience and stormwater management efforts, the SFPUC is investing in capital improvement projects to help reduce the risk of flooding in the low-lying neighborhoods:

Capture 1 Billion Gallons of Stormwater with Green Infrastructure by 2050: Through capital projects, grant programs, and the City’s Stormwater Management Ordinance, the SFPUC has a goal to capture 1 billion gallons of stormwater using green infrastructure by 2050, improving stormwater management and contributing to a more beautiful, livable city at the same time.

15th and Wawona neighborhood: The stormwater management project is scheduled to start in spring 2021.

17th and Folsom neighborhood: The stormwater management project will start in in early 2022 for the 17th and Folsom area.

Cayuga neighborhood: The agency has also prioritized a project to improve system capacity near the Alemany Farmer’s Market and the area surrounding the U.S. 101 and I-280 highways interchange. This work will also provide stormwater management benefits in the Cayuga neighborhood in larger storms. Construction is anticipated to start in late 2024.

The SFPUC conducts targeted outreach to SF residents and businesses who are directly impacted by flooding in low-lying areas throughout the year, especially before a major weather event. Residents and businesses are urged to take proactive steps to protect their properties by elevating belongings and moving vehicles to higher ground.


The best way to report issues such as localized flooding, sewage backup or clogged catch basins is to contact 311 at www.sf311.org, or by calling 3-1-1. 


About the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residential customers, and businesses. Our mission is to provide our customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that values environmental and community interests and sustains the resources entrusted to our care. Learn more at www.sfwater.org. 


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