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Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance

red tiled public restroom with steel wash basins and mirrorsLast updated 12/5/2018

Properties that missed the 1/1/2017 compliance deadline are subject to code enforcement unless one of the following actions has been taken:

  • Replaced non-compliant fixtures and submitted an affidavit to DBI
  • Submitted an affidavit to DBI even if all fixtures were already compliant
  • Contacted DBI to request a variance due to special circumstances
  • Received prior approval for fixture replacement through the SFPUC's Plumbing Fixture Replacement Program and upon completion of retrofits, submitted an affidavit to DBI.

To avoid enforcement actions, properties with compliant fixtures that haven't submitted an affidavit to DBI should do so ASAP. Properties with non-compliant fixtures that believe they qualify for a variance should also contact DBI ASAP.

Click here for a copy of the Commercial Conservation Affidavit form: English, Spanish, Chinese

Click here for updated Frequently Asked Questions. 

Replacing old, water-wasting plumbing fixtures with new efficient models is one of the most important steps to help conserve and protect California’s water supplies. Several state and local measures require property owners to install water-conserving plumbing fixtures. The SFPUC and Department of Building Inspection (DBI) are partnering to provide information to building owners on local water efficiency ordinances and how to comply with requirements. 

Effective July 1, 2009 two ordinances updated local water efficiency laws for San Francisco properties: the Residential Water Conservation Ordinance and the Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance.

Do the requirements apply to me?

Commercial Water Conservation At a Glance

To conserve water by ensuring efficient plumbing fixtures in commercial buildings.

Who Must Comply?
Commercial property owners by January 1, 2017.

Municipal Code
Building Code, Article 13A

Resources for Compliance
Compliance Fact Sheet
Frequently Asked Questions

Effective Date 
July 1, 2009

Department of Building Inspection (DBI) 
(415) 558-6058

The Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance applies to all existing commercial properties. This ordinance requires commercial building owners to repair plumbing leaks, replace inefficient plumbing fixtures, and to have submitted a completed Commercial Water Conservation Affidavit to DBI by January 1, 2017 that verifies all plumbing fixtures are compliant. All commercial properties must submit a completed affidavit, even if all their plumbing fixtures are already efficient.

How do I comply?

To comply, commercial property owners or an authorized representative were required to conduct an inspection to verify all plumbing fixtures in their buildings meet the requirements above and submit to DBI a Commercial Water Conservation Affidavit by mail or in-person to DBI's Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance Counter, Window #8, First Floor, 1660 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 or by email to by January 1, 2017 or email DBI if you believe your building falls under special circumstances. 

All noncompliant fixtures that exceed the maximum flow rates noted below have been replaced before sending DBI the completed affidavit:

  1. All showerheads must not exceed a maximum flow of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm)
  2. All showers have no more than one showerhead per valve
  3. All faucets and faucet aerators must not exceed  a maximum flow rate of 2.2 gpm
  4. All water closets (toilets) must not exceed a maximum rated water consumption of 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf)
  5. All urinals must not exceed a maximum flow rate of 1.0 gpf
  6. All water leaks have been repaired
Failure to submit an affidavit by the deadline or submitting an affidavit with inaccurate information will result in DBI initiating code enforcement proceedings, which may include monetary penalties and a lien on the property.  


Need to replace a non-compliant plumbing fixture?

California plumbing code requires new plumbing fixture installations to meet the following water use rates:

  • Showerheads ≤ 2.0 gpm
  • Residential kitchen faucet aerators ≤1.8 gpm
  • Residential lavatory faucet aerators ≤1.2 gpm
  • Commercial/public lavatory faucets ≤ 0.5 gpm
  • Toilets ≤ 1.28 gpf
  • Urinals ≤ 0.125 gpf

Compliance with the requirements must be completed through DBI's Plumbing Inspection Division. For more information, or to request a variance, email, call (415) 558-6058 or visit

Need help?

The SFPUC provides free services, plumbing devices and incentives to assist customers with meeting water efficiency requirements:

If you have a questions about SFPUC water conservation programs to help you comply, contact the Water Conservation Section at (415) 551-4730 or email


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Last updated: 12/5/2018 3:37:23 PM