City Departments will report on practices and policies being implemented to reduce water usage and be asked to explore potential legislative solutions, including expanding water recycling/reuse efforts and requiring separate water meters within multi-unit buildings
San Francisco, CA - At today's Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Scott Wiener will call for an oversight hearing on the City's response to the drought, and potential legislative solutions to improve San Francisco's water conservation efforts. Areas of policy exploration include increasing water recycling/reuse and requiring individual water meters and plumbing systems that allow for water reuse. The hearing will take place at the first Government Audit and Oversight Committee hearing in September.
"We need to effectively manage our limited water supply during this severe drought and acknowledge that, when it comes to water, we are living in a new world," said Supervisor Wiener. "While San Francisco has always been forward-looking in conservation efforts, we can always do better and continue to set an example for the rest of the country. Water is not an infinite resource, and it shouldn't be treated like one."
At the hearing, city departments will report on what measures have been taken to reduce water usage both by departments and in the city at-large. The Department of Public Works, the Recreation and Park Department, the Public Utilities Commission, the Department of Building Inspection and the Department of Environment will all be asked to participate in the hearing,
The departments will also be asked to present potential policy changes that can be made to improve water usage in the future. Two ideas include expanding the city's recycled water program and requiring individual water meters for each unit in multi-unit dwellings. Recycled water is highly treated wastewater that can be employed for non-potable uses like landscaping, street cleaning, and other industrial uses. Water metering is an important way to reduce water use by allowing people to know their water consumption and requiring them to pay for it separately. Unlike electricity, which is individually metered, water is not currently required to be separately metered for multi-unit buildings. This means that most people don't pay individual water bills, but instead either have the cost included as part of their rent or split water bills using HOAs or some other mechanism to divide the single water use for the whole building. This creates no incentive for individual water conservation. Supervisor Wiener will explore legislation requiring separate metering for water in new construction, at a minimum.