Why the SFPUC Welcomes the Year of the Rat

“Gung hay fat choy” is a common Chinese phrase used to wish others happiness and prosperity, especially during the Lunar New Year.

Lunar New Year celebrations kick off on Saturday, January 25, marking a year of new beginnings. And just in case one may not have not been born in the year of the rat, they still have some luck coming their way. The year is predicted to be a strong, prosperous, and a lucky year for almost all Chinese zodiac signs. This means everyone is set to show determination in reaching goals and aspirations.

A pet rat. Photo courtesy: AlexK100 [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], Wikimedia Commons.

The SFPUC encourages San Francisco residents to help the agency reach its goal of working to protect, recover, conserve and reuse natural resources. San Francisco has a “city under the City” where nearly two thousand miles of sewer mains and laterals are helping collect sewage and stormwater. This massive network of nearly invisible infrastructure includes 27 pump stations works 24/7 to move wastewater to three treatment plants that clean the water before discharging into the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean.

Speaking of determination, SFPUC crews work across the City and at each treatment plan, upgrading the aging sewer system to enhance resource recovery to capture and reuse the resources in the wastewater stream, including recycled water and energy from biogas generated during treatment. Even the solids that go down drains are rich in nutrients and the byproduct of the treatment process results in “biosolids,” which are nutrient-rich and can be used as synthetic fertilizer-replacement and soil amendment. Decades of research and use by farmers across North America demonstrate that biosolids are an effective way to convert waste to resources by improving soils and enhancing crop growth, and by returning valuable carbon and nutrients back to the land. Important work is happening at the SFPUC and reflects the essence of the industrious, thrifty and diligent rat.

Red lanterns on display during Chinese New Year in San Francisco’s Chinatown 2004, The Year of the Monkey. Photo courtesy: Nancy Wong. Wikimedia Commons.

As a neighbor, business, visitor, homeowner or renter in San Francisco, everyone plays a part in making sure the City’s good luck of having a clean environment, high-quality drinking water and a safe place to work, play and live, never runs out.

Here’s to a great year of the rat.