San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Limited water supplies and increase climate variability are putting more pressure on San Joaquin Valley cities, counties and utilities. Addressing these challenges will include, but are not limited to, increasing the use of non-potable water sources through the development of alternative water supplies, the implementation of technologies and streamlining permits. 

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), in collaboration with other entities, has developed a step-by-step guide for implementing onsite water systems that can be modified and used by other cities and counties to help address ongoing droughts and increased water demand. Below is further information about their program.

Onsite Recycled Water – San Francisco’s Non-Potable Water Program (NPWP)


In 2012, the City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) set the aggressive goal to reduce water demand by 10 million gallons per day (MGD) by 2018. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) administered the Non-Potable Water Program (NPWP) to support this goal by saving onsite potable water by using alternative sources. The CCSF also adopted the Onsite Water Reuse for Commercial, Multi-Family, and Mixed Use Development Ordinance (known as the Non-Potable Water Ordinance, Article 12C), which requires that all new development projects 250,000 square feet or more install onsite water systems and all new development projects 40,000 square feet or more prepare and submit water budget calculations to the CCSF.


For successful implementation of onsite water systems for non-potable applications

  • 1
    Establish Working Group

    Establish a small working group to guide the development of the local program.

  • 2
    Select the Types of Alternate Water Sources

    Narrow the specific types of alternate water sources in the new program.

  • 3
    Identify End Uses

    Classify specific non-potable end uses for your program.

  • 4
    Establish Water Quality Standards

    Develop water quality standards for each alternate water source and/or end use.

  • 5
    Identify and Supplement Local Building Practices

    Revise local construction requirements and building permit processes to reflect new program requirements.

  • 6
    Establish Monitoring and Reporting Requirements

    Establish water quality monitoring and reporting requirements for ongoing operations.

  • 7
    Prepare an Operating Permit Process

    Establish the permit process for initial and ongoing operations for onsite water systems.

  • 8
    Implement Guidelines and the Program

    Publicize the program to provide clear direction for project sponsors and developers.

  • 9
    Evaluate the Program

    Promote the best practices for onsite water systems.

  • 10
    Grow the Program

    Expand and encourage onsite water systems.