SF Stormwater Management Ordinance

Requiring large buildings and landscapes to harvest and reuse stormwater (Stormwater Management Ordinance), 2010

San Francisco, CA

 SF Stormwater design guidelines. Image Credit: SFPUC.

SF Stormwater design guidelines. Image Credit: SFPUC.

HOW IT CAN BENEFIT YOU

Soil can absorb stormwater and remove pollutants.  Pavement cannot.  San Francisco combines wastewater and rain runoff in the same sewer pipes that go to the treatment plant.  When lots of storm runoff overloads the treatment plant, untreated water pollutes the bay.  So pesticides, trash, and other pollution end up in the bay.

So San Francisco created the Stormwater Management Ordinance.  It requires new building or landscape development or redevelopment projects over 5,000 square feet to write a Stormwater Control Plan to harvest and reuse rainwater on site per Stormwater Design Guidelines (e.g., green roofs).

It saves the city money because stormwater controls: 

  • Are paid mostly by developers to design, build and maintain. 
  • Reduce pollutants processed by the wastewater treatment plants.

WHY IT'S A LEADING PROGRAM

The Guidelines go beyond the minimum standards required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit because it encourages the:

  • Use of plants and soil to collect stormwater.
  • Removal of pollutants.
  • Use Low Impact Design (LID) that use ecological and landscape-based systems to mimic pre-development drainage patterns and hydrologic processes through retention, infiltration, detention and treatment of stormwater at its source.

GOAL

To save water and reduce water pollution.

WHO CAN TAKE ACTION

New building or landscape development or redevelopment projects over 5,000 square feet.

PUBLIC OUTREACH & EDUCATION

An extensive 34-month outreach strategy engaged the public on the Guidelines.  Engineers, planners and design professionals were targeted to gather technical feedback on the Draft Guidelines.  Further, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the Port provided technical assistance to 15 large projects that were under construction during the outreach period.  All of these efforts resulted overwhelming public support for the Design Guidelines.

BUDGET TO COORDINATE THE PROGRAM

Staff time to review submitted stormwater control plans is the primary cost.  SFPUC worked in conjunction with the Department of Building Inspection to integrate stormwater control plan review into the existing review process.

CONTACT

Pauline Perkins, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, pperkins@sfwater.org

LAST UPDATED

September 15, 2015