San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Green Infrastructure Projects

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is implementing multiple green infrastructure projects based on their Urban Watershed Assessment, which will identify green and grey sewer infrastructure improvements over the next twenty years. The SFPUC recognizes that the sewer system, treating both sewage and stormwater runoff, was not built to withstand the impacts of climate change - such as intense rainstorms that overwhelm the system. The watershed-based planning process is being used to help plan the City’s Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP), a multi-billion dollar project to to upgrade aging infrastructure, and ensure the reliability and performance of the sewer system.   

The Urban Watershed Assessment promotes progressive solutions considering unique characteristics of each of the City’s eight urban watersheds, such as soil type, underlying geology, age of infrastructure and urban development patterns.

Phase One of the SSIP, will construct, monitor and evaluate eight green infrastructure projects to manage stormwater before it enters the combined sewer system in each of the eight urban watersheds.

The following green infrastructure projects are currently underway (as of 2016):

Mission and Valencia Green Gateway: Project will create new plazas, improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, and manage stormwater with rain gardens and permeable pavement.

Wiggle Neighborhood Green Corridor: Project will improve stormwater management, walking, and biking conditions along the iconic Wiggle route.

Chinatown Green Alley: Project will manage stormwater and create pedestrian community focused areas in Chinatown Alleys.

Sunset Boulevard Greenway: Project will include over 80 rain gardens to manage stormwater along a two mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard.

Holloway Green Street: Project will manage stormwater through permeable pavement and green bulbouts and improve the street experience.

Yosemite Creek Daylighting: Project will create a new creek replicating the historic Yosemite Creek and manage flows from McLaren Park.

Visitacion Valley Green Nodes: Project will feature two distinct locations creating a mini-plaza on Sunnydale Ave and terraced rain gardens on Leland Ave.

Baker Beach Green Street: Project will use green infrastructure near Baker Beach to improve stormwater management.

 SFPUC's pilot projects were chosen based on high visibility and opportunities for community engagement in addition to stormwater management. By assessing community needs and educating San Francisco residents about watershed health and potential co-benefits, green infrastructure installations will be able to meet neighborhood needs as well as the SFPUC’s stormwater management objectives. The dialogue with citizens has helped to democratize the PUC’s capital planning process and to ensure that selected pilot projects reflect community priorities.  

The SFPUC monitored six green infrastructure projects from 2009 – 2015 in order to evaluate performance, best practices and design standards for future green infrastructure projects. Monitoring was completed in partnership with SFPUC and San Francisco Estuary Institute. The monitoring reports are available on the SFPUC website for each of these projects: 

Cesar Chavez Streetscape Improvement: A demonstration project for the Better Streets Plan, the project includes 18 rain gardens along more than a half mile of impervious streetscape in the Mission neighborhood. Additional improvements include traffic-calming bulb-outs, street trees, drought-tolerant landscaping and a permanent bike lane.

Kimberg Rainwater Harvesting System: Installed by a homeowner in the Noe Valley neighborhood, the system collects rainfall from a 1,100 square foot rooftop, treats the water via settling, filtration and Ultraviolet (UV) irradiation, then distributes treated water to interior plumbing fixtures (toilets and laundry machine) and to an exterior hose bib.

Newcomb Avenue Green Street: This pilot project is assessing the benefits of green infrastructure implementation to the city's combined sewer system. The model block seeks to provide multiple benefits including urban beautification, traffic calming, increased community gathering spaces, and some return to historical watershed function.

San Francisco State University: Bioswale: Since 2010, San Francisco State University professors, facilities and grounds crews, and the SFSU Planning Department have successfully collaborated on several green infrastructure installations across the campus.

San Francisco State University: Infiltration Basin: The University has implemented several green infrastructure installations on campus, including bio-retention planters, vegetated swales, cisterns and other GI controls.

Sunset Circle: Vegetated swales and infiltration basins were constructed at the Sunset Circle parking lot to reduce stormwater flow to adjacent Lake Merced.





Publication Date: 2016

Related Organizations:

  • San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
  • City and County of San Francisco, California

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Resource Types:

  • Best practice

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