December 23, 2009

The Holidays: a time to give back - your used cooking oil, that is...

Well, here is your chance to be Santa, and give your used cooking oil as a gift to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). What's best, your gift will have a dual benefit: help keep our sewers clean, and be converted to biofuel for use in vehicles, reducing our carbon footprint.

First, collect your used cooking oil, and then hurry up and drop it off at the following places on December 26 and 27, and also January 2 and 3:

* COSTCO WAREHOUSE - 450 10th St (at Bryant)
Saturday: 9:30am-7pm / Sunday: 10am-6pm
During store hours, 8am-10pm
-- FRANKLIN –1765 California St (at Franklin)
-- POTRERO HILL: 450 Rhode Island St. (at 17th St.)
-- SOMA – 399 4th Street (at Harrison)
* DOGPATCH BIOFUELS – 765 Pennsylvania Ave (between 22nd & 23rd St)
Saturday: 11am-4pm / closed on Friday and Sunday
Saturday: 9am-4pm / Sunday: 12pm-4pm / closed on Friday

For more information, and to see the locations where you can drop off year-round, visit

Happy OILLESSdays Everyone!

December 4, 2009

Storm headed our way... Get prepared and give a hand.

The SFPUC and DPW are hard at work trying to get catch basins cleaned before the rains start on Sunday. And if you live in a flood-prone area, DPW is providing San Franciscans (with proof of residency) up to 10 free filled or unfilled sandbags at the DPW Operations Yard, 2323 Cesar Chavez Blvd. (enter at Kansas and Marin Streets), Monday-Sunday, 7:00 am to 4:00 pm.

With 20,000 catch basins in the city we can't get to all of them so now is the time to help yourselves and your neighbors. If you see a lot of leaves and trash over a catch basin, give a helping hand and sweep it up. You can even compost the leaves! And if a catch basin starts flooding during the rains, oftentimes it is the result of a errant plastic bag or trash preventing the water from properly draining.

Just a little bit of elbow grease and VOILA... a free flowing catch basin that is no longer flooding a neighborhood.
Of course, if moving the blockage doesn't work. Give us a call at 3-1-1 and we'll send a crew out there to investigate.

November 24, 2009

Frying a Turkey for Thanksgiving? SFPUC's SFGreasecycle wants your grease!

Fried turkey is good, but you definitely don't want to pour the oil down the drain. Do you want to see what happens if you do that? Clogged sewers like this!

Thanksgiving is all about being with family, eating and having a good time. Come the next day, drop your used cooking oil at one of the following sites in San Francisco:

COSTCO WAREHOUSE - 450 10th St (at Bryant)
Friday: 9am-8:30pm / Saturday: 9:30am-7pm / Sunday: 10am-6pm
* FRANKLIN –1765 California St (at Franklin)
* POTRERO HILL: 450 Rhode Island St. (at 17th St.).
* SOMA – 399 4th Street (at Harrison)
DOGPATCH BIOFUELS – 765 Pennsylvania Ave (between 22nd & 23rd St)
Friday: 11am-7pm / Saturday: 11am-4pm / closed on Sunday
Friday-Saturday: 9am-4pm / Sunday: 12pm- 4pm.
Saturday: 8am-4pm / closed on Friday and Sunday
WALDEN HOUSE – Entrance for drop off on 330 Newhall St (at Evans)
ONLY on Friday, November 27: 11am-3pm

If you need more information, visit

THANKS for GIVING your grease!

November 18, 2009

How fun is that?

Scores of hydrologists, landscape architects, urban planners and stormwater activists converged at San Francisco State University last Friday (November 13)… to play games.

“Games?” you may ask, “When there’s so much stormwater management-related work to do in San Francisco? For shame!”

Don’t hate.

These were serious games undertaken during a five hour Urban Watershed Planning Charrette – the City’s second such event!

Charrette-goers broke into groups and poured over maps of the City’s western watersheds, placing “game pieces” on the best places to implement Low Impact Design technologies like bioretention, filtration, permeable paving, and rainwater harvesting. Wildly fun!

Top solutions from this green infrastructure “jam session” will be presented to SF communities and may be folded into San Francisco’s sewer system overhaul.

For more information on Low Impact Design (LID) technologies or previous urban watershed planning events visit: (details from Friday’s charrette will be posted online in March, 2010).

Live to play. Play to live. Excelsior!

November 13, 2009

Don’t Let This Winter’s Rain Go to Waste! The SFPUC Continues its Popular Discounted Rain Barrel Program

Starting this coming Saturday, November 14, while supplies last, San Francisco residents can purchase up to ten fully outfitted 60-gallon rain barrels at steep discounts, compliments of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SFPUC’s) Wastewater Enterprise.

Purchase your first barrel for $89 and each additional barrel for only $69 – that’s more than 40% off the regular retail price of $119!*

The re-purposed rain barrels, originally used for food storage, are available at The Urban Farmer Store (San Francisco location only): 2833 Vicente Street, at 40th Avenue. Please note that The Urban Farmer Store is closed on Sundays.

For details please visit: (select “Rainwater Harvesting”), or write to:

November 10, 2009

Old Creeks in S.F.

Check out this informative page with pictures about former creeks in the Mission on Burrito Justice. It has maps dating back to 1859 and is followed by a great discussion by some pretty smart people. Click on the title or HERE!

The SFPUC and nifty engineers at the Dept. of Public Works also worked with the Oakland Museum of California to develop a cool map for download that highlights all the old San Francisco creeks and watersheds! It is called the Creek and Watershed Map of San Francisco.

November 5, 2009

"Rain drops keep falling on my head"

...says the catch basin, and, "please, keep me litter-free."

The weather forecast is predicting rain in San Francisco tonight (Thursday, November 5) and Friday, November 6. Cleaning catch basins (storm drains) prior to a rain event is especially important. Leaves and street litter can clog the catch basins and may cause street flooding. We have already had two major rain events in mid-October in San Francisco where catch basins were clogged with debris, and rainwater couldn't flow through.

Put on your gloves, use a rake to remove debris above surface and place leaves in your green cart and the rest in garbage bins. Never attempt to remove debris below surface. To report sewer emergencies, clogged catch basins after you remove debris from above surface, call San Francisco’s 3-1-1 or visit the online self service portal at

Your efforts for cleaning the catch basins will benefit your neighborhood and our City.

Wait! Read here to learn more about the do's and dont's before/during/after a storm.

October 30, 2009

SF Bay Oil Spill

If you are in the Bay Area you must have heard about the oil spill today. Well a lot of us in the SFPUC have been on standby just in case the oil made it's way to the S.F. shoreline. What does wastewater have to do with beach/shoreline cleanups? Well, it turns out that most of our wastewater personnel are HAZWOPER certified.(no it is not a Burger King burger!) Fortunately this spill is A LOT smaller in size. Still, bunker fuel can cause tar balls to form on the land so we want to be prepared just in case.

Remember back in 2007 when the Cosco Busan spilled more than 53,000 gallons of oil into the Bay? Guess who lead the clean-up effort at Ocean Beach! That's right... SFPUC Wastewater Enterprise.

Check out some pics from our cleanup efforts at the Ocean Beach. We helped over 1000 San Franciscans get trained and prepped for the beach cleaning. And you thought we only dealt with crap!

October 26, 2009

Pride and Petsjustcute

Pet lovers joined in early to celebrate their pets and the coming Halloween eve at 20th Annual Pet Pride Day held in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow on Sunday, October 25. The incredible weather was just the treat that both pets and humans to enjoy while visiting informational booths that included adoptable pets of all species, animal rescue groups; pet product vendors free goodies and raffle prizes!

The day’s events included a Halloween pet costume contest, pet trick competition, incredible Frisbee dog tricks and the ever popular SFPUC sponsored Super Dooper Pooper Scooper Kiddie Goodie Scramble, all hosted by Master of Ceremonies, Doug McConnell of ‘Bay Area Backroads’ and ‘Mac and Mutley’ fame.

The Super Dooper Pooper Scooper Kiddies’ Goodie Scramble helped to instruct children and adults alike to pick up their pet’s waste and dispose of it properly.

SFPUC staff distributed pet waste bags throughout the day to ensure everyone picked up and disposed of their pet's waste in a proper manner.

So, just how are you supposed to dispose of your pet's waste in San Francisco. Follow these tips and you will be part of the solution to water pollution:


ALWAYS pick up after your dog and dispose of its contents into the trash! There are over 120,000 dogs in San Francisco, and each one poops once or twice a day... you do the math!
  • Look for and use biodegradable pet waste bags available in dispensers at local parks.

  • Carry extra biodegradable bags when walking your dog and encourage other dog owners to clean up after their pets, as well.

  • Teach your children how to properly clean up and dispose of pet waste. Your actions set an example for others.

  • Dispose of biodegradable pet waste bag in the BLACK trash bin.

  • DO NOT put into BLUE recycling bin or GREEN compost bin.

  • DO NOT flush into the toilet or drop into the stormdrain on on the corner (up to a $25,000 fine for dumping into stormdrain!)

    When you pick up after your dog, you are helping the environment because...

“We all Live Downstream!”

October 22, 2009

Crazy Monday Storm

Oct. 19 was such a crazy day for many people due to the storms. Mother Nature decided to not play nice and surprised everyone by unloading a lot of water from the sky in a short period of time. Manholes and side sewer vents overflowed, intersections flooded, and unfortunately some people's homes were damaged in the process.

The good thing is that in most instances City departments came together to help those areas in need. This came in the form of pumping out water, cleaning debris, or sanitizing homes and businesses so people weren't displaced. Still, there was a lot of damage done.

What happened? Well, San Francisco's combined sewer system is designed to carry around 0.8 inches/hour of flow. This is based on historical weather models... and most of the time it's enough. For example, during the Oct 13 storm or any of the rainstorms over the past two years (albeit there weren't enough) you didn't hear reports of whole neighborhoods flooding.

Clogged catch basins and intersections yes, but not rivers of water and manhole geysers.

On Monday, some of our gauges showed that nature dropped a whopping 0.71 inches of rain in 20 MINUTES in many areas. Even in areas previously prone to flooding (where we subsequently upgraded our system), the storm intensity thrown our way was too much, too fast. Of course, the upgrades helped, and some areas could have fared far worse, but that's understandably little consolation to those who had their homes, businesses, and lives affected.

Rather than blab on about the system... I'll direct you to a a very informative web post written by San Franciscan Jeff Diehl (WARNING: some expletives are used in the page).

More to come about our combined sewer system in coming weeks. We'll be reevaluating where our system goes from here as we move forward with plans to rebuild it -- and we'll be incorporating a lot of different strategies, like Low Impact Design (which is mentioned in Jeff's post).


Were you affected on Monday? Post your story in the comments section.

October 20, 2009

The First Flush: It is not what you think!

Last week was our first big rainstorm of the season in San Francisco. In the wastewater business the "first flush" refers to the initial rainwater that runs off the street into a storm drain (or San Francisco's case a catch basin!). While the rainwater itself is clean, the stuff it picks up off the street is not. Think of the motor oil, brake dust, garden chemicals, paint, etc., that end up washing into the system.

That's where the beauty of San Francisco's combined sewer system comes into play. Since we have one sewer pipe for both our sewage and stormwater that connects to our treatment plants. Our system provides full treatment for "first flush" pollutants.

Fancy that! So why do you think San Francisco is the one of only two places in California that has a combined sewer system? Can you guess where the other combined sewer system is located. (HINT: It is Old......)

Stay tuned for the answer.

October 19, 2009

SIR Follows the Flow

So what does one do when retired? For members of the Northern California Chapter of Sons in Retirement (SIR) retirement is an opportunity to come together to take pleasure in a good meal, enjoy good company, and tour interesting and new places. And just what is interesting and new? For members of SIR, interesting and new meant touring the SFPUC Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Plant on Saturday, October 17. SIR members enjoyed a beautiful balmy day while touring the SFPUC Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Plant located on the Great Highway.
SIR members listened intently to the water conservation, water pollution prevention and wastewater treatment process discussion that helped them to understand just what it takes to get San Francisco’s wastewater stream clean enough to discharge into the Pacific Ocean. In addition, they were able to listen to one of the SFPUC Biologist, Laura Targgart tell them just how the biology department gives the wastewater treatment plant a report card on just how well they are doing in protecting the water environment that surrounds San Francisco. Many commented that after seeing what happens after it goes down the drain, gave them a new perspective on the fees they pay, and just where that money goes.

Want to “Follow-the-Flow” to find out more about wastewater treatment and just what does happen when it goes down the drain; join us for one of the regularly scheduled Saturday tours of the SFPUC Wastewater Treatment Plant. For more information visit or call 415-695-7341.

October 16, 2009

Good Question! A penny down the toliet?

11 year old Chloe of San Leandro asked Channel 5 KPIX reporter Ken Bastida "What happens if I flush an object down the toliet?" Check out what a fun time one SF Sewer Guru had responding to this question at the Oceanside Treatment Plant near the SF Zoo.

Take a guess before you view and see if you get the answer right. The answer may surprise you... or maybe not since you are all such educated sewer fans!


October 8, 2009

SFPUC Announces Whole Foods SOMA and Franklin Stores in SF as the Two New Permanent “Waste Cooking Oil to Biofuel” Residential Collection Sites

San Francisco, CA – The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) today announced Whole Foods South of Market (SOMA) and Franklin stores as the two new additions to the list of year-round, permanent locations in San Francisco for residents to drop off their used cooking oil for conversion into biofuel. Residents will be able to drop off their used cooking oil at the San Francisco Whole Foods SOMA and Franklin stores during store hours.

The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council Recycling Center (HANC) and Dogpatch Biofuels in the Potrero Hill neighborhood, as well as the Household Drop-off Waste Center are also collecting residential waste cooking oil year-round.

Launched in 2007, SFGreasecycle is a citywide effort by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to divert fats, oil and grease away from the sewers and recycle them into biodiesel. Used cooking oils are a serious problem for San Francisco’s wastewater system, clogging the sewers and costing more than $3.5 million each year to unclog the pipes.

Recycled oil from restaurants is estimated to generate 1.5 million gallons of low-emission biofuel each year. SFPUC has been collecting cooked oil from restaurants and food service establishments at no cost. So far, close to 800 restaurants signed up with the program, with more than 280,000 gallons of used cooking oil collected.

The past two years, the SFPUC has also organized two Thanksgiving and Christmas residential collection events and a used cooking oil drop off opportunity at the Big Blue Bucket Eco-Fair, where more than 3,000 gallons of used cooking oil were collected.

The success of the collection events prompted the SFPUC to secure permanent locations for residents to drop off their used oil.

Residents who want to participate should start saving up their used cooking oil now. Here are some easy tips to avoid spilling oil:
1. Cool down used cooking oil in the pan
2. Pour used oil into a clean, non-breakable, leak-proof container with a tight lid. Consider using old containers, such as mayonnaise jars or the original container.
3. Make sure oil is free of water, soapsuds, and food scraps.
4. Drop-off your leak-proof container at HANC, Dogpatch Biofuels or one of the Whole Foods markets in San Francisco.

Here is where residents can drop off their used cooking oil in San Francisco:
* Whole Foods SOMA – every day during store hours, 8am to 10pm: 399 4th Street (at Harrison Street).
Phone: 415-618-0050
* Whole Foods Franklin – every day during store hours, 8am to 10pm: 1765 California Street (at Franklin Street).
Phone: 415-674-0500.
* Whole Foods Potrero Hill – only on the 4th Friday of the month, from 11am to 3pm: 450 Rhode Island Street (at 17th Street).
Phone: 415-552-1155
* Dogpatch Biofuels: 765 Pennsylvania Avenue (between 22nd & 23rd Streets), Tuesday to Friday 11am to 7pm, Saturday 11am to 4pm, closed on Sunday and Monday.
Phone: 415-643-3435.
* Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council Recycling Center (HANC): 755 Frederick Street (at Arguello Boulevard), Monday to Saturday 9am to 4pm, Sunday 12pm (Noon) to 4pm. Phone: 415-753-2971
* Household Drop-off Waste Center: Recycle Road (between 401 and 501 Tunnel Avenue), Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 8am to 4pm.
Phone: 415-330-1400

For more information or to sign up for the SFPUC’s SFGreasecycle’s free restaurant used oil collection service, visit

P2 Weekly Tip: Gardening With Children

Do you have a child or know of one who is interested in gardening?

Gardening is fun and helps children as young as three and four years of age to appreciate the natural world by learning the principles of environmental stewardship and understanding where their food comes from. To get your child or family involved, visit or for more information.

October 1, 2009

Hear Two Great Stormwater Presentations Tomorrow at West Coast Green!

Hear Two SFPUC presentations on stormwater management practices and policies this Friday at West Coast Green!

Start your day at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Networking Cafe with a discussion of the Stormwater Design Guidelines, led by SFPUC stormwater planner Sarah Minick. Bring a coffee - it starts at 8AM!

Later, catch fellow stormwater planner Rosey Jenck’s talk in the session titled: The Water and Energy Connection: San Francisco Case in Point Friday, October 2nd, 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

P2 Weekly Tip: Make Way For Water To Flow Freely!

The rain will be here soon! Time to start thinking about what belongs down the storm and sewer drains! Now would be a good time to clean out your roof gutter, clear your downspout, and rake leaves and debris out of your street gutter and catch basins (storm drains)!

If you attended the 2nd annual BIG Blue bucket Eco-Fair then you probably visited SFPUC’s “Adopt a Catch Basin” booth and “Rainwater Harvesting” booth and participated in one of the rainwater harvesting workshops, where you were coached on how to build your own rain barrel for rainwater collection. If you missed the event, you can always view the “video of the month” to learn how to Build Your Rain Barrel System with Chaplin and Keaton.

Remember, don't dump waste in or around storm or sewer drains. To report illegal dumping and potential storm water pollutants, or if you see a catch basin filled with debris and to report flooded streets, call 3-1-1. Remember to keep your catch basin happy, by keeping them clean!

September 30, 2009

A huge splash at the 2nd annual BIG Blue Bucket Eco-Fair!

Thanks to all the attendees who made
BIG Blue Bucket a successful event!

Over 700 San Francisco residents attended the Big Blue Bucket Eco-Fair to learn new and innovative ways to live green. Residents also had a chance to visit different City agencies and non-profit booths to see how the SFPUC is leading change for our city, San Francisco, to become more energy independent and environmentally efficient.

Here are some highlights from the event:

· 10 FREE rain barrels raffled away to harvest rain water
· FREE rakes given to the first 50 catch basin adopters
· 2 high-efficiency toilets raffled away
· FREE locally grown vegetables for everyone
· FREE SF Water tote bags for everyone
· FREE water conservation devices provided to everyone
· Over 20 tons of compost given away for FREE
· Numerous I Love SF Water t-shirts and water bottles

We thank you San Franciscans for taking an active stance during Pollution Prevention (P2) Week to make strides in decreasing pharmaceutical pollution by dropping off and recycling expired medication and decreasing the City’s reliance on imported fossil fuels by recycling used cooking oil and grease. The used cooking oil dropped off at the event will be turned into biofuel to run City vehicles (like MUNI busses).

We would like to give special thanks to all of those who went paperless and “jumped into the bucket” by pre-registering for the event online. We would like to continue our GREEN efforts for next year’s event - so lets double or triple that number next year and save more trees!

We are proud to have partnered with residents, City agencies and many organizations in an effort to encourage a greener and cleaner San Francisco!

September 24, 2009

P2 Weekly Tip: National Pollution Prevention Week!

Proclaim P2 - Reduce Pollution!
September 21st- 27th is National Pollution Prevention Week!

Celebrate with the SFPUC and visit our Pollution Prevention booth at the 2nd annual BIG Blue Bucket Eco-Fair on Saturday, September 26th @ Jerrold Ave. & Phelps St. from 10AM – 2PM. Do your part and bring old or expired medications and used cooking oil - safely contained - to the event so they can be properly disposed of.

The BIG Blue Bucket will also showcase different environmental programs, such as rainwater harvesting, water conservation, SFGreasecycle, GoSolarSF, composting - as well as the importance of emergency preparedness. For more information or to pre-register, log onto

September 22, 2009

SFPUC’s Compost at Big Blue Bucket and Community/School Gardens in San Francisco

The Big Blue Bucket is almost here and as always, the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant (SEP) staff outdid themselves again by filling close to 2,000 bags of compost!

In an effort lead by Steve Jones, Johnny Johnson and Armin (Turk) Borick and other heroes of the SEP, the work was completed without a hitch. Some of the SEP staff who filled the bags and helped community gardeners load their trucks with compost, from left to right, Back Row: Liam Fitzpatrick, Turk Borick, Johnny Johnson, Brett Watson, George Pelayo, Front Row William Huang, Howard Conroy, Jalanda Griffin, Alex Corbilla, Art Gutierrez. Not pictured above are Jose Limon, Troy Determan, Patrick Flaherty, Nadine Boyd, and John Bender.

Thanks everyone for your help!

In between filling the bags, staff also helped community and school gardens fill up their trucks with compost. As part of a new effort of the Wastewater Enterprise, community gardens and schools in San Francisco will be using SFPUC’s biosolids compost to grow plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables. In the next few months, watch for SFPUC’s lawn signs around the City.

More than 20 tons of compost will be given away at the Big Blue Bucket Eco-Fair this coming Saturday, September 26th, from 10AM to 2PM, at the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant. The entrance to the event will be on Jerrold Ave. @ Phelps St.

Spread the word and come and join us at the Big Blue Bucket and learn about SFPUC’s environmental programs and more. For more information, visit

Fun with Rain Barrels… at the Zoo!

As monkeys and peacocks looked on (literally), a group of about 20 local volunteers helped to construct a new 8-unit rain barrel system at the San Francisco Zoo.

The system will collect rainwater from the roof of an historic 1906 earthquake shack in the Zoo’s new Greenie’s Conservation Corner.

District Supervisor Carmen Chu and several SFPUC team members provided encouragement and moral support for the volunteers who “learned as they built” the 360-gallon system.

Stay tuned to the SFSewers Blog for notices on future rain barrel building workshops that you can participate in (monkeys and peacocks notwithstanding…)

Learn more about the SFPUC’s rainwater harvesting program at:

September 17, 2009

P2 Weekly Tip: Recycle used cooking oil!

Want to dispose of used cooking oil, but don’t know what to do with it?

Join the SFPUC at the 2nd annual BIG Blue Bucket Eco-Fair and properly dispose of all unwanted used cooking oil. If you start saving now, you will have plenty to dispose! Here are some tips to make used cooking oil collection easier:

  1. ALWAYS cool down used cooking oil in the pan.

  2. Pour used oil into a clean, non-breakable, leak-proof container with a tight lid. Consider using old containers, such as a mayonnaise jar for easy collection on storage.
  3. Make sure oil is free of water, soapsuds, and food scraps.

  4. Then, drop-off your oil at the BIG Blue Bucket Eco-Fair on Saturday, September 26th @ Jerrold Ave. & Phelps St. from 10AM – 2PM.

Remember, NEVER pour used cooking oil down the drain! There are numerous donation and collection sites available throughout the City, making used cooking oil easy to dispose of. Log onto to find a collection site near you.

September 15, 2009

Come to the Big Blue Bucket Eco-Fair to Learn How to Irrigate Your Garden With Captured Rainwater!

Okay, you’ve taken the plunge and purchased (or built) a rain barrel or cistern system for your garden. Congratulations! You are now officially a rainwater harvesting enthusiast! (Isn’t it fun?)

After this past weekend’s surprise rain showers you should have plenty of rainwater stored in your system. Now it’s time to think about efficient ways to get your water out of storage and into your garden.

Lucky you! On Saturday, September 26, at the SFPUC’s second annual Big Blue Bucket Eco-Fair, irrigation experts will be on-hand to discuss and answer questions about drip irrigation, low pressure valves, booster pump systems and other topics of interest to rainwater harvesting, well… nerds.

When you get to the fair, sign up for one of four rainwater harvesting workshops offered throughout the day. You’ll learn about rainwater harvesting. You’ll learn about rainwater irrigation. You’ll be happy.

For more information on the Big Blue Bucket Eco-Fair, please visit Check out our rainwater harvesting web site:

September 11, 2009

SFPUC to Host Free “Build-It-Yourself” Rain Barrel Workshop at the Zoo

Learn how to construct your own multi-unit rain barrel system using recycled food drums! The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the San Francisco Zoo are partnering to construct two multi-unit rain barrel systems in the Zoo’s newest conservation area. Come help build the Zoo’s rain barrel system and receive instruction on how to construct a similar system in your own back yard!

The two-hour workshop will be led by SF Zoo and SFPUC staff on Monday morning, September 21. Pre-registration is required and space is available on a first come first served basis. To pre-register or learn more about the rain barrel building workshop, email or call 415-554-0715.

September 10, 2009

P2 Weekly Tip: Recycle old & expired medications!

How do you dispose of old or expired medications?

If you flush them down the toilet or drain they may pollute our Bay and Pacific Ocean, harming aquatic life. If you throw them in the garbage they can eventually seep back into the ground, harming the environment. Or worst, if they are kept unlocked in a medicine cabinet or drawer they could harm your family and home. Instead, recycle old or expired medications regularly. Better yet, visit the SFPUC’s BIG Blue Bucket Eco-Fair on Saturday, September 26th @ Jerrold Ave. & Phelps St. from 10AM – 2PM to dispose of old or expired medications properly.

September 8, 2009

Free food for your plants at Big Blue Bucket!

Humans are not the only ones that need food; plants need nutrition too, as well as sun and water. What's more, healthy plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere reducing greenhouse gases. Give your plants a boost and pick up FREE compost at our Big Blue Bucket Eco-Fair on September 26. Check out our video to see how you will help complete the "lifecycle" by picking compost.

To learn more about the event and to pre-register online, go to! Just so you know: only three bags of compost per person while supplies last. So, hurry up and register now!

September 3, 2009

P2 Weekly Tip: Bring beauty to your garden!

Do you want to see more
butterflies, hummingbirds & ladybugs
in your garden?

Not only do they bring beauty to your garden, they are also beneficial insects that feed on a variety of pest insects. You can attract these and other beneficials by growing certain plants in your garden - keep in mind that hummingbirds are attracted to flower colors and nectar, not fragrance.

Try planting sweet pea, parsley, sunflower, native buckwheat, and/or baby blue eyes, just to name a few. Ask your local nursery to assist you when choosing the right flower to attract the right beneficial to your garden!

Have a GREAT gardening Day!

September 1, 2009

Keep Your Catch Basin Happy

How? By keeping them clean, of course:
Catch basins (storm drains) are the entryway from our streets to our sewer system. They can get clogged with litter and leaves, which may cause neighborhood flooding. Adopt a catch basin and help keep minimize potential flooding. You can even get FREE rakes if you are one of the first 50 adopters at our second Big Blue Bucket Eco-Fair on September 26. For more information on how you can get free rakes, and also free compost, a chance to win rain barrels, learn about water conservation, solar incentive program, SFGreasecycle and more, visit

August 27, 2009

P2 Weekly Tip: Don't Waste Water Washing Your Car!

When you wash your car at home dirt, oil, and grease gets washed away with the detergent. This polluted water then flows from the street and into nearby storm drains. Car washing detergents are rich in pollutants, such as nutrients, metals and hydrocarbons that need to be treated at our wastewater treatment facilities.

Did you know that most commercial car washes are required to treat their wash water and often recycle their water for multiple washes? Ultimately saving water!

Next time your car needs a wash; think about taking it to a commercial car wash instead of washing pollutants down the drain. This will help conserve water, wastewater run-off, and divert the harmful effects untreated wastewater has on the environment.

August 20, 2009

P2 Weekly Tip: Think Before You Flush!

Do you flush sanitary or baby wipes down the toilet?

Flushing wipes can cause major problems in the City’s sewer system. The extra wastes (such as sanitary wipes, household cleaning wipes, baby wipes, etc.) that are labeled “flushable" clog the sewer system, contributing to costly cleanups and even flooding. Please, ONLY flush toilet paper and throw wipes and similar items in the trash.

Visit: for more toilet safe information!