SF Celebrates Community Service and Non-Potable Water Programs

The SFPUC received Resource Efficiency and Community Service Awards for its Hummingbird Farm and Non-Potable Water Program from the California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA), the state’s leading professional group for water and power industry professionals in the public sector.

Crocker Amazon Farm Groundbreaking.

The SFPUC received the CMUA award in the community service programs category for its innovative and effective approaches to serving local community needs through Hummingbird Farm, an urban agriculture garden in San Francisco. Previously six acres of underutilized SFPUC land, the area is now an active community farm with public gardening days, cultural celebrations and educational activities. Managed and operated by the SFPUC’s community partner, People Organizing for Democratic and Economic Rights (PODER), Hummingbird provides hundreds of pounds of organic fruits and vegetables each season. The farm is a local asset—making free produce available to communities in the Excelsior neighborhood—where 71% of students qualify for federally-funded lunch programs.

Key program highlights include:

The SFPUC also received a CMUA award in the water programs category for implementing practices designed to save and efficiently use water resources through the agency’s Non-Potable Water Program. Our agency created a city wide ordinance, developing a regulatory framework and streamlining the permitting process for commercial, multi-family, and mixed-use developments in San Francisco to collect, treat and reuse alternate water sources for toilet flushing, irrigation and other non-potable uses.

Living Machine non-potable reuse technology at SFPUC’s headquarters.

Through the program, the SFPUC provides technical and financial assistance to help developers through the process of permitting, installing and operating non-potable water systems. In a dense city like San Francisco, replacing the demand for toilet and urinal flushing with non-potable water can offset approximately 25% of the total potable water use in a residential building, and up to 75% in a commercial building. For example, the SFPUC’s headquarters uses an on-site wastewater treatment system and a rainwater catchment system for toilet/urinal flushing—reducing potable water consumption by 60%.