October 29, 2010

Learn How to Make Your Own Rain Barrel System!

Rainwater Harvesting: A Hands-On Workshop
Presented by Tara Hui from Greywater Action

Learn about San Francisco's water and waste water system. Save water, save money, save our Bay and Ocean by storing rain water that is free, with simple low-cost rainwater catchment systems, and use it in the dry months.

This workshop will be hands-on. We will install a small linked barrel system at a beautiful community garden called The Greenway.

Date: Saturday Nov 6th
Time: 10am to 1 pm
Location: Visitacion Valley Greenway Community Garden

Cost: $25 to $50 sliding scale, participants will get a free 45-gal food grade barrel with completion of the class. (Limited work-trade available, contact us early for details.)

To sign-up:

But wait! There’s more…

The SFPUC continues its popular Discounted Rain Barrel and Cistern Program! Learn how to buy rain barrels and cisterns at more than 50% off retail prices! For details, visit:

October 27, 2010


Civic and Environmental Leadership Cited as Key Reasons for Appointment of Past President and Director of City’s Environment Commission and Department

Francesca Vietor, a respected voice in the San Francisco environmental community, was elected yesterday as President of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). Vietor will lead the five member commission that sets policy for the City’s water, power and sewer department. Vietor, previously serving as Vice-President of the Commission, has served on the Commission since September 2008.

“I want to acknowledge the outstanding work of outgoing Commission President F.X. Crowley and congratulate Francesca on her new appointment,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom. “Francesca’s years of civic and environmental leadership will help further San Francisco and the SFPUC’s tradition of environmental stewardship and innovation.”

Vietor, a native San Franciscan, has been a dedicated voice and advocate for environmental protection programs for more than two decades. Previous positions include serving as President of the Urban Forest Council (2003-2005), Chair of the Mayor’s Environmental Transition Team (2003), President of the S.F. Commission on the Environment (1997-1999) and Director of the S.F. Department of the Environment (1999-2001). Vietor has served as the principal consultant to Ecoworks (2005-2010) and on both the staff and board of the Rainforest Action Network. She is co-founder and codirector of 1000 Flowers, a national woman’s voter registration and mobilization effort, which registered and activated over 20,000 women in 47 states.

Vietor’s community service has also included work with Bioneers, Bluewater Network, Center for Environmental Health, Commonweal, the Chez Panisse Foundation, Friends of San Francisco Public Library, the Goldman Fund, Greenpeace, International Rivers, Neighborhood Parks Council, Save the Bay and Slide Ranch, among others.

“Water, energy and wastewater are critical issues facing our communities, our city and our state,” said Vietor. “I will work with my fellow commissioners to ensure that we have adequate fresh water, clean energy and sustainable wastewater systems to protect our environment, as well as safeguard the public health and economic future of our city.”

A graduate of Georgetown University and BFA candidate at California College for the Arts, Vietor lives in San Francisco with her five-year-old daughter, Chiara.

October 25, 2010

Don’t let that rainwater go to waste!


While supplies last, San Francisco residents, businesses and schools can purchase 60-gallon rain barrels and larger volume cisterns at steep discounts, compliments of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Purchase your first barrel for $85 and each additional barrel for only $45 – that’s more than 50% off the regular retail price of $105! Cistern discounts range from $160 to $640 depending upon volume.

The discounted rain barrels and cisterns are available at:

The Urban Farmer Store
(San Francisco location only)
2833 Vicente Street, at 40th Avenue
Phone orders are welcome: 415-661-2204 (ext. 1)

For more information on this discount program, or on San Francisco’s rainwater harvesting program, please visit:


October 21, 2010

Rains are on the way!

Have you checked on the catch basin (storm drain) in your neighborhood? Are they covered with leaves or trash? Now is the time to clear those up. Why? Leaves and debris can clog our catch basins - entryway to our combined sewer system - and may cause street flooding.

See a catch basin covered with leaves vs. a clean one:

You can do your part by raking away the leaves and put them in your green (compost) bin. Anything else in the black (garbage) bins. Make sure you wear gloves for this chore.

Too much stuff or too difficult to clean? Call San Francisco's 3-1-1 and they will immediately contact SFPUC's Sewer Operations Crews to clean. Don't attempt to remove debris below surface!

Want to learn more why it is so important to keep the catch basins clean and our sewers flowing? Visit our website at sfsewers.org.

October 7, 2010

Rainwater Harvesting for Urban Gardeners: A Hands-On Workshop

Presented by Tara Hui and Christina Bertea from Greywater Action http://www.greywaterguerrillas.com/

Simple, low-cost rainwater catchment systems can increase your backyard harvest, reduce stormwater runoff and prevent combined sewer overflows, recharge aquifers, and lower your water bill. In this hands-on workshop, students will review design and build a multi-unit rain barrel system.

Date: October 23, Saturday
Time: 11 am to 4 pm
Location: 11 Wawona Street, San Francisco

Starting with a lecture, we will go over different catchment systems, and design considerations. During the hands-on portion after lunch (included in the workshop), we’ll locate the downspouts, and install a 675-gal rain-catchment system on-site, using recycled drums provided by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).

Sign up through the Greywater Action website: http://greywateraction.org/content/workshop-sign (1st 10 people to sign-up will receive a free drum, courtesy of SFPUC, at the workshop)

$30-$100 sliding scale. (Limited work trade available. Please contact us early to inquire. Not available the day of.)

October 5, 2010

A rather unusual bike tour: visiting San Francisco’s sewers!

On Saturday, September 25, close to 40 hearty cyclists embarked on a bike tour of a small segment of San Francisco’s infamous sewer system.

The cyclists (aka ‘sewer-bike enthusiasts’ including SFPUC staff) began their journey at 17th and Folsom and rode along the historic alignment of Mission Creek as it would have flowed in the 1800s.

The creek’s winding route coursed westerly along what is now Division Street, turned southwesterly, crossing Alabama and Harrison Streets, and then proceeded south between Harrison Street and Treat Avenue to Eighteenth Street. The original mouth of the creek, which would have been the estuary of Mission Creek, is west of 7th Street. The current layout of many streets south of and parallel to Market Street are curved because of the original footprints of Mission Bay and Mission Creek. Read more about the tour at streetblog.

Does this pique your interest? You can definitely learn more about our sewer system at sfsewers.org and the SFPUC’s stormwater management program, including urban watershed management, at http://stormwater.sfwater.org. Who knows? There might be another ‘sewer bike tour’ and you can find about that right here if and when that’s the case!

October 1, 2010

Sign-Up for a 3-part Gardening Workshop at Garden for the Environment

San Francisco Residents- Sign-Up for a 3-part gardening workshops at the Garden for the Environment, sponsored by the SFPUC! The 3-part workshops will take place in November 2010.

Saturday, November 6, 2010:

Introduction to Organic Gardening Design: http://eventbrite.com/event/698294618

Saturday, November 12, 2010:

Introduction to Organic Garden Care: http://eventbrite.com/event/853746579

Saturday, November 19, 2010:

Introduction to Organic Garden Watering: http://eventbrite.com/event/853762627

For more information on the Garden for the Environment, please call (415)731-5627 or visit: http://www.gardenfortheenvironment.org/