The Onsite Water Reuse Program allows for the collection, treatment, and use of alternate water sources for non-potable applications in individual buildings and at the district-scale.
Who Must Comply?
Onsite water reuse systems are required for new development projects of 100,000 gross square feet or greater in San Francisco.
Onsite water reuse systems represent a significant opportunity to transform the way water is managed in buildings. By matching alternate water sources with the right end use, such as irrigating landscapes and flushing toilets and urinals, onsite water reuse systems offset valuable potable water supplies and unlock the potential for more resilient and sustainable water management. The SFPUC administers the Onsite Water Reuse Program, which allows for the collection, treatment, and use of alternate water sources for non-potable applications in individual buildings and at the district-scale. San Francisco is also part of a national effort through the National Blue Ribbon Commission to overcome barriers to onsite water reuse.
NEW REQUIREMENTS: Onsite water reuse systems are required for new, large development projects in San Francisco. Recently amended in 2021, Article 12C of the San Francisco Health Code (commonly known as the Non-potable Water Ordinance) requires the following:
- New development projects that apply for a site permit after January 1, 2022 of 100,000 gross square feet or more are required to install and operate an onsite water reuse system.
- The required alternate water sources and required non-potable uses are based on development project type. For commercial buildings, the project must meet its toilet and urinal flushing and drain trap priming demands through the collection, treatment, and use of available blackwater and condensate. For residential and mixed-use buildings, the project must meet its toilet and urinal flushing, irrigation, clothes washing, and drain trap priming demands through the collection, treatment, and use of available graywater and condensate. The requirements apply to both development projects consisting of a single building or multiple buildings.
- New development projects of 40,000 gross square feet or more are required to submit water budget calculations assessing the supply available from the required alternate water sources and the demand from required non-potable uses, outlined above. It is not required to install and operate an onsite water reuse system.
Capacity Charges and Excess Use Charges
Effective February 1, 2017, customers with onsite non-potable water systems may receive an adjusted water and wastewater capacity charge. This adjustment will accurately assess capacity charges for buildings with onsite non-potable water systems by charging new users only for the demand placed on SFPUC water and wastewater systems.
Additionally, the SFPUC is currently implementing the NPO Excess Use Charge Program for new development projects required to comply with Article 12C. More info can be found at sfpuc.org/NPOExcessUse.
How Do I Comply?
Refer to the Onsite Water Reuse Program Guidebook for more info.
- Submit a Water Budget Application and Water Use Calculator to SFPUC-Water Resources Division (SFPUC-WRD).
- Submit a Non-potable Implementation Plan to SFPUC-WRD (district-scale projects only).
- Submit Application for Permit to Operate to San Francisco Department of Public Health- Environmental Health (SFDPH-EH).
- Obtain Encroachment Permit from San Francisco Public Works (SFPW) if applicable.
- Obtain Plan Check Approval from San Francisco Department of Building Inspection-Plumbing Inspection Division (SFDBI-PID) and SFDPH-EH and Complete System Construction.
- Conduct a Cross-Connection Test with SFPUC-Water Quality Division (WQD) and Complete Post-Construction Inspection.
- Submit Documentation for a Permit to Operate from SFDPH-EH.
- Obtain a Permit to Operate from SFDPH-EH.
- Operate in Conditional Startup Mode.
- Operate in Final Use Mode with SFDPH-EH Approval.
Project Submittal Resources
- Onsite Water Reuse Program Guidebook
- SFDPH-EH Rules and Regulations
- Validated UV List
- Non Potable System Vendor List
- Guidebook for Commissioning an Onsite Water Treatment System
- CCSF Certified Backflow Testers
- Case Studies of San Francisco Non-potable Water Projects
- Case Studies of Water Recycling Projects Around the World
- Case Studies of Innovative Water Reuse and Resource Recovery Projects
- Onsite Water Reuse Grant Program Rules and Grant Application (As of November 2023, these are under revision)
- Brewery Process Water Grant Reuse Guidelines
View our webinars to learn key updates and technical guidance on implementing and operating an onsite water reuse system in San Francisco.
- September 9, 2020 Webinar: Onsite Water Reuse Program Updates
- September 23, 2020 and October 7, 2020 Webinars: Part 1 and 2 Decoding the Log Reduction Targets
- October 21, 2020 Webinar: Lessons Learned
- May 1, 2023 Webinar: Insights from Operators of Onsite Non-potable Water Systems
- October 19, 2023 Webinar: State of the Science Single Family Water Recycling Applications
National Blue Ribbon Commission for Onsite Non-potable Water Systems
We are at the forefront of innovation in advancing onsite water reuse in North America. As chair of the National Blue Ribbon Commission for Onsite Non-potable Water Systems, the SFPUC is leading a national collaborative of municipalities, water utilities and public health agencies from 14 states, the District of Columbia, US EPA, and US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, the city of Vancouver, and the city of Toronto.
The National Blue Ribbon Commission advances best management practices to support the use of onsite non-potable water systems in individual buildings and at the local scale. The National Blue Ribbon Commission is focused on addressing key institutional and regulatory barriers to widespread adoption of onsite non-potable water systems. Efforts have included developing a risk-based water quality framework for onsite water reuse and establishing model policies for municipalities that support local implementation of onsite water reuse.
For more information and access to the National Blue Ribbon Commission’s resources, visit www.watereuse.org/nbrc.
SFPUC Onsite Water Reuse Program
SF Public Works Encroachment Permits
SF Department of Building Inspection - Plumbing Inspection Division