Wednesday, April 1, 2015

California Governor Jerry Brown Directs First Ever Statewide Mandatory Water Reductions

UPDATE - April 1, 2015

BOMA San Francisco Members:

Following the lowest snowpack ever recorded and with no end to the drought in sight, Governor Jerry Brown Jr. announced actions that will save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient.

"Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action," said Governor Brown. "Therefore, I'm issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible."

High resolution photos of previous snow surveys are available here.

For more than two years, the state's experts have been managing water resources to ensure that the state survives this drought and is better prepared for the next one. Last year, the Governor proclaimed a drought state of emergency. The state has taken steps to make sure that water is available for human health and safety, growing food, fighting fires and protecting fish and wildlife. Millions have been spent helping thousands of California families most impacted by the drought pay their bills, put food on their tables and have water to drink.

Click here for the full executive order issued by the Governor.

Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at


UPDATE - August 4, 2014

In response to the ongoing severe drought, the State Water Resources Control Board recently passed emergency regulations beginning on August 1, 2014 to ensure all Californians reduce outdoor water waste or face potential enforcement. The SFPUC is continuing its ongoing and comprehensive water conservation programs and educational efforts to ensure that citations are issued only as a last resort.

Californians can be cited for:
  • Washing down driveways and sidewalks except when needed for health and safety purposes.
  • Watering outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes excess runoff. 
  • Using a hose, without a shut-off nozzle, to wash motor vehicles; and, 
  • Using drinking water in fountains or decorative water features unless the water recirculates. 
The State’s requirements are similar to water waste restrictions the SFPUC already has in place and are consistent with water saving tips and guidance we provide our customers rain or shine. 


Image credit: Randall Benton, Sacramento Bee

Original Post - February 20, 2014

Like most businesses and households, BOMA San Francisco members are acutely aware of California's declared drought and are looking at ways to further conserve water during this unprecedented dry winter.  Indeed, BOMA members have been at the forefront of energy and water conservation for some time though our Energy and Environment Committee and the Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance.

BOMA San Francisco's Energy and Environment Committee (E&E)

BOMA's E&E Committee is one of the organization's most active member groups focused specifically on energy and environmental sustainability in commercial high-rise buildings.  At the committee's most recent meeting, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) representatives presented on water-saving tips for commercial properties:
  • Determine how and where your water is used on site. If you need assistance, the SFPUC provides free Water-Wise Evaluations.
  • Assign a conservation champion to develop and monitor water conservation efforts.
  • Educate tenants and visitors about water conservation practices; put up signs encouraging water conservation in kitchens, restrooms, locker rooms, and other public areas.
  • Inform vendors that water efficiency is a priority (cooling tower maintenance, landscape, laundry and dishwasher)
  • Install water-efficient fixtures and plumbing devices, such as high efficiency toilets and urinals, faucet aerators, and pre-rinse spray valves. The SFPUC provides fixture rebates and free devices (details below).
  • Identify water conservation opportunities specific to your facility or business and prioritize no or low cost options. 
  • Use a broom, pressure washer, or hose equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle to clean sidewalks, driveways and pavement.
  • Conduct preventative maintenance to ensure water-using fixtures are working properly.
  • Assess your irrigation system to identify inefficiencies such as leaks, broken sprinkler heads and run off. 
  • Track water consumption through meter reads or monthly water bills to measure water savings achievements and monitor for leaks.
There is not a mandatory water reduction for San Francisco at this time although there is a request from the SFPUC that businesses and households reduce their consumption voluntarily by 10%

Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance (2009)

Our members are fortunate to have had the foresight to work with the City and County of San Francisco on the Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance that applies to any commercial property owner.  The law requires that a building owner repair plumbing leaks and install water efficient plumbing fixtures to obtain a Certificate of Compliance either upon major improvements or by January 1, 2017.


Inefficient plumbing fixtures manufactured and installed prior to 1994 must be replaced with efficient fixtures. The SFPUC offers financial incentives and technical assistance for the replacement of inefficient plumbing fixtures. The Ordinance established the following water efficiency guidelines for commercial properties:
  • All showerheads have a maximum flow of 2.5 gallons per minute (fpm);
  • All showers have no more than one showerhead per valve;
  • All faucets and faucet aerators have a maximum flow rate of 2.2 fpm
  • All water closets (toilets) have a maximum rated water consumption of 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) or the flush volume set by updates to the San Francisco Plumbing Code. Effective July 1, 2011, new toilet fixture installations may not exceed 1.28 gallons per flush, the maximum rated water consumption established in the San Francisco Plumbing Code, Chapter 4, Section 402.2;
  • All urinals have a maximum flow rate of 1.0 gpf. Note: To achieve compliance with the Ordinance, new urinal fixture installations shall not exceed 0.5 gpf, the maximum rated water consumption established in the San Francisco Plumbing Code, Chapter 4, Section 402.3;
  • All water leaks have been repaired.
Click here for more information on how you can help to conserve our most precious resource.

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