San Francisco, CA—The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), Clearway Energy, Inc.’s Energy Center San Francisco (ECSF) and State Senator Scott Wiener today celebrated the launch of the City’s largest onsite water reuse project. The initiative will divert foundation drainage at the Powell Street BART station and redirect it to ECSF’s District Energy Plant for use in their district steam loop, resulting in 30 million gallons of drinking water saved annually.
“In San Francisco, and throughout California, we need to continue to prepare for the effects of climate change by being more resourceful when it comes to our water supply,” said Mayor London N. Breed. “We are committed to environmental sustainability and protecting our scarce natural resources, and this innovative and groundbreaking project will help us conserve millions of gallons of clean drinking water.”
“We consider the SFPUC to be more than a City agency—we are a member of the San Francisco community and we want our private and public partners to follow our lead regarding conservation practices,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly Jr. “For San Francisco to be a true environmental leader, we need to all work together to meet our shared goals. That is why this project is so important—it is a great example of the public and private sectors rising up together to solve the great challenges of our time.”
As part of the SFPUC’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and leadership in developing community partnerships, the agency has collaborated with ECSF to reclaim foundation drainage at the Powell Street BART Station. Identifying foundation drainage as a resource rather than a nuisance, the water will be diverted away from the SFPUC’s wastewater system and redirected to ECSF’s District Energy Plant for use in their steam loop, providing heating, hot water and process steam to hotels and buildings in downtown San Francisco.
“We’re proud to partner with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to help reach its sustainability goals and save tens of millions of gallons of drinking water for its residents,” said Gordon Judd, Clearway Energy, Inc.’s General Manager of ECSF. “This facility represents a huge step forward for the Bay’s water conservation efforts and our own goal of becoming one of the nation’s only district energy systems to eliminate use of city water in our services.”
Supported in part by a $500,000 grant from the SFPUC, ECSF worked with BART to replace and upgrade aging sump pumps, and construct a 1,000-foot pipeline, which transports the foundation drainage from Powell Street Station to the District Energy Plant, located on Jessie Street. At the plant, ECSF installed an onsite water treatment system to treat the foundation drainage to a quality suitable for use in a district steam heating system. The water is treated through a coarse strainer, microfiltration and closed circuit reverse osmosis.
ECSF will reduce its overall water consumption by 30 percent, helping to save 30 million gallons of water each that would normally be used for drinking purposes, making it the largest project funded by the SFPUC’s Onsite Water Reuse Grant Program.
The SFPUC is committed to exploring innovative practices to conserve water and diversify its sources, as part of the City’s OneWaterSF approach. San Francisco is the first municipality to adopt groundbreaking legislation that allows buildings to install onsite water reuse systems to meet demands such as toilet flushing and irrigation.
Additionally, in 2018, the SFPUC worked with State Senator Wiener on state legislation that will expand water recycling efforts by developing statewide water quality standards for onsite water systems.
“California has a structural water shortage that we must work to overcome,” said Senator Wiener. “Today’s launch of the largest onsite water reuse project in San Francisco sets an example for future projects throughout the state. The SFPUC continues to be a leader in water reuse.”
According to the SFPUC’s annual water resources report, conservation programs and services offered last fiscal year by the SFPUC will result in savings of more than 500 million gallons of water over the next 30 years. The ECSF project, which came online this fiscal year, will save 900 million gallons of water over the next 30 years. Additional water recovery efforts by ECSF in the future could bring the total annual water savings to 80 million gallons a year, which would support the company’s ultimate goal of being a zero-makeup water company in the next 10 years.