For more than a decade, the SFPUC has been providing fresh, clean and free drinking water though its Drink Tap program. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught the SFPUC how critical it is to ensure safe, clean drinking water is accessible for the community.
The SFPUC has always sought to bring drink tap stations to communities that do not have readily available access to fresh drinking water, and the expansion of the Drink Tap program is a reflection of this philosophy. Along with providing discounts on utility bills, halting shutoffs due to late payments, and exploring innovative new pilot programs, the Drink Tap program is another example of how the SFPUC is helping the community during these troubling times.
The Bayview, Tenderloin and Mission District communities will receive a total of 12 new tap water stations, also referred to as “drink tap stations,” which provide residents with access to free, high-quality tap water. The drink tap stations were installed along heavily-traveled thoroughfares and based upon community feedback at the following locations:
• St. Anthony’s (150 Golden Gate Avenue)
• Glide Memorial (302 Ellis Street)
• 730 Polk Street
• 1850 Mission Street
• 201 Alabama Street
• 2783 Mission Street
• 3001 19th Street
• Mendell Plaza (3rd Street and Palou Avenue)
• Hilltop Park (La Salle and Whitney Young Circle)
• Youngblood Coleman Playground (Mendell Street and Fairfax Avenue)
• Earl’s Organic (2102 Jerold Avenue)
• Ingerson Avenue and Ingalls Street
The decision to install drink tap stations in these neighborhoods evolved from conversations with Covid Task Force representatives from each of the communities. In July, the SFPUC installed temporary, portable fixtures at six different fire hydrant locations in the Tenderloin to address water access issues raised by the coronavirus pandemic.
Those fixtures—called manifolds—attached to the potable water hydrants to allow for drinking water access, but were temporary solutions. The drink taps being installed at the request of the three communities will be permanent, long-term fixtures in the neighborhoods.
The SFPUC started the drink tap program in 2010, installing lead-free water bottle refilling stations to provide everyone with free access to high-quality tap water while on the go. The tap stations enable residents to reuse their own container rather than purchase costly single-use bottled water. This encourages conserving natural resources and reduces waste from plastic water bottles
The SFPUC works with City agencies, the Board of Supervisors, community-based organizations, health professionals, and community advocates to select station locations that meet the collective goal of increasing water access, especially to the City’s most vulnerable communities.
Historically, the SFPUC has installed drink tap stations in communities with equity issues and lack of access to healthy drinking options. In recent years, the program has expanded, with Recreation and Parks Department and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) installing drink tap stations at schools, parks and open spaces throughout the City. Funding for that expansion came in part from the City’s Soda Tax, which was introduced to protect children from the harmful impacts of sugary beverages.