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Lessons on Water Efficiency from the Bay Area
Michael Morris / ECOBUILDING PULSE / March 11, 2013
When it comes to water efficiency, could the Bay Area serve as a test-bed for new programs and policies on water efficiency and alternative sourcing? According to Vision 2020 water efficiency chair and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) director of water resources Paula Kehoe, municipal water providers across the country (with progressive cities like San Francisco at the forefront) are seeking to diversify their water supply sources to offset real and potential impacts from droughts, climate variability, and increased demand. What can be learned from the Bay Area in this regard?
The SFPUC is currently developing and implementing a number of demonstration programs, near-term projects, and long-term goals that will help create a path to sustainability to offset or prevent future public water shortfall issues. As part of this effort, SFPUC recently acted to diversify its portfolio of options beyond traditional sources—such as conservation measures, groundwater, recycled water, and conservation methods—to include the use of graywater, blackwater, rainwater, and stormwater, as well as foundation drainage. The commission also set a goal to collect 10 million gallons of water per day (mgd) from these and other alternate sources. These efforts are ongoing, and although SFPUC now expects to exceed the 10 mgd goal and is encouraged by progress in implementing these initiatives, it is still too early to judge results.