A capacity charge recovers the costs associated with providing additional water and wastewater capacity to new users or existing users requiring additional capacity. Capacity charges exist to achieve an equitable distribution of the cost of expanding our utility systems.
Water Capacity Charge
The water capacity charge went into effect January 1, 2009, pursuant to City and County of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) Resolution 07-0099, and was updated on May 13, 2014, by Commission Resolution 14-0072.
The water capacity charge is based solely on meter size for all customer classes. Meter size accounts for required water flows and system pressure, which is based on the number of installed plumbing fixture units. As such, meter size provides an accurate estimate of the amount of demand placed on the system.
Wastewater Capacity Charge
The wastewater capacity charge went into effect July 1, 2005, pursuant to Commission, and was updated on May 13, 2014 by Commission Resolution 14-0072.
The wastewater capacity charge is based on water meter equivalents, which provide a direct estimate of wastewater flow to the system, and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code, which accounts for wastewater strength. Refer to the SFPUC SIC Reference Table.
Capacity Charges for Customers with Onsite Water Systems
Effective February 1, 2017, the Commission approved Resolution 17-0018, which adjusted the administrative procedures for calculating water and wastewater capacity charges for customers with onsite water systems.
For these customers, capacity charge will be assessed based on the water meter size needed to serve only those plumbing fixtures not being supplied non-potable water from an onsite water system during normal building operation. This adjustment accounts for the fact that these properties require less capacity, as they provide a portion of their own water usage.
Capacity Charges for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
In most cases, ADUs are not assessed additional capacity charges. See the SFPUC Guidelines for Assessment of Water and Wastewater Capacity Charges on Accessory Dwelling Unit Permit Applications for more details. ADU permit applicants must also complete the Fixture Count Form.
Learn more about the San Francisco ADU program below:
- ADU Checklist - this checklist provides an overview of requirements and resources from the Planning Department, Department of Building Inspection (DBI), Fire, Public Works, and Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in an effort to streamline permit review of ADUs.
- ADU Handbook – this is a guide for homeowners, designers, and contractors considering adding an Accessory Dwelling Unit to an existing residence in San Francisco.
- Capacity charges must be paid in full prior to issuance of the applicable site permit or building permit by the Department of Building Inspection (DBI). Capacity charges are added to the DBI permit fees and are collected at the Permit Center, 49 South Van Ness Ave., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103.
- If you need a permit for a small business, you may qualify for expedited review under Proposition H. Visit the Prop H website for more infomation.
- Customers subject to capacity charges shall receive a prior use credit equal to the equivalent charge of the current or most recent meter size without regard to any time limit for such credit.
- Plumbing fixture units and demand load are calculated using the most recent California Uniform Plumbing Code.
- If the existing water meter size is inadequate to supply additional plumbing fixtures being added, applicant will be required to upgrade to the appropriate water service and meter size as per the SFPUC Rules and Regulations Governing Water Service, Section A, Rule 2.
Capacity Charge Rate
- Applicable capacity charges rate will be based on the date SFPUC staff at DBI receives the permit application and building plans.
- Capacity charge is adjusted annually every July 1st based on changes in the Engineering News-Record 20 City Average Construction Cost Index. Click here for the current Capacity Charge Rate Schedule.
More Capacity Charge Resources
For additional information on capacity charges, please visit SFPUC staff located at the San Francisco Permit Center, 49 South Van Ness Ave., 2nd Floor, San Francisco 94103,or call (628) 652-6040.