San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (PUC)
Daly City Department of Water and Wastewater Management (DC)

Water System Improvement Plan (WSIP)
Recycled Water Program

   The Public Utilities Commission has published a revised Recycled Water Management Plan (RWMP).  (The Executive Summary is provided in pdf format.)  While we are pleased to see that Lake Merced and Harding Park are at the top of the priority list, we remain disappointed with the modest goals being set on a city-wide basis.  Also, we are happy to see that aquifer injection in order to support lake levels is to be considered in the engineering phase.

   More information regarding the PUC's recycled water program can be found on their web site.

   We have submitted comments on the RWMP both to the Public Utilities Commission and to the Planning Department team working on the WSIP-PEIR (Water System Improvement Program -- Programmatic Environmental Impact Review).

   Friends of Lake Merced has reviewed the current proposal for development of recycled water in San Francisco, the only urban county in California lacking such a program.  The Public Utilities Commission recently presented the current version of their Integrated Water Resources Plan.  Included is a section on recycled water that falls far short of acceptable performance in several ways.  We have proposed several modifications to this program to bring it in line with State and economic standards.

  The San Francisco recycled water program has been included in the overall Water System Improvement Program (WSIP, formerly CIP).  The status of this project has been changed, for some unexplained reason, from local to regional.  As such, it is considered as a part of the regional programatic environmental impact report (Regional PEIR).  This letter, from Susan Leal to Dean Macris in the Planning Department, updates the status of this project in this regard at May 10, 2005.

   The California Department of Water Resources has recently updated their regulations (draft 12/01/04) for use of recycled water for aquifer recharge.   Key elements include the proximity in time and distance from extraction points (wells) used for domestic supply.  These have been set at 12 months and 2,000 feet in the new regulations.  That should permit use of recycled water to develop a water mound south of Lake Merced in order to reduce the southerly flow of water out of the lake.

   The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has issued two reports regarding their plans for the  City's recycled water program:

   Recycled Water Market Assessment – DRAFT (pdf)

   Existing Facilities Assessment – DRAFT (pdf)
These reports have had limited technical and public review.  They summarily dismiss applications of recycled water that might have a beneficial impact on lake levels at Lake Merced.  We are especially concerned that applications of recycled water to build a barrier between the ocean and the Westside Basin aquifer are dismissed on the basis that there is no threat of saltwater intrusion.  Earlier  models (GeoResource Consultants, Inc., 1993) estimated a seven-foot increase in lake level resulting from this application; that benefit has been ignored.
   In 2002 the State Water Resources Control Board conducted a comprehensive statewide survey of facilities where recycled water was used.  This survey has been updated and can be accessed through a series of Adobe Acrobat © PDF files available on the SWRCB web site. 

 The California Recycled Water Task Force has recently (May 12, 2003) published their final report.  Friends of Lake Merced is happy to have been provided the opportunity to participate with the Public Information, Education and Outreach Workgroup.  It is clear that the state's commitment to public involvement in planning and supporting recycled water programs provides a model that will, we hope, be followed here in San Francisco.  (May 2003)

  The agreement recently signed between the San Francisco PUC, Daly City and three golf clubs provides for the installation of one recharge well at each of the golf clubs.  It seems possible that surplus recycled water from the Daly City plant could be used for aquifer recharge during those seasons when the golf clubs are not using that water for irrigation.  This might in turn produce a water barrier between Lake Merced and the domestic water supply wells to the south that would support lake level until longer-term solutions have been achieved for restoring the condition of the Westside Basin aquifer.

   Friends of Lake Merced is initiating a program to evaluate and, if appropriate, encourage development of the use of tertiary treated recycled water for aquifer recharge in the area just south of Lake Merced.  As a first step we've taken a look at the (Draft) Groundwater Recharge Reuse Regulations recently published (July 21, 2003) by the California Department of Health Services.  Also, the California Recycled Water Task Force has published a white paper, Science and Health, Indirect Potable Reuse Workgroup. (pdf file)  Visit the Task Force web site for additional information.  Please let us know if you have any comments and/or suggestions.

  Grant funds are available from the California Department of Water Resources to enhance groundwater management.  AB303 funds have been used by the City of Daly City to develop a groundwater monitoring program, and to refine models of the Westside Basin aquifer.  Additional funding may be availble in the 2003-2004 fiscal year to support study of recharge potential.

The passage of Proposition 50 in November 2002 makes available additional funds that may be used to support maintenance of this aquifer.  Chapter 8 of that act provides funds for projects to “protect urban communities from drought, increase supplies of clean drinking water, reduce dependence on imported water, reduce pollution of rivers, lakes, streams, and coastal waters, and provide habitat for fish and wildlife."  This includes financing for "Groundwater recharge and management projects."

Proposition 13 provides funds for groundwater recharge construction projects.  Loans will be issued by the Department to public agencies and incorporated mutual water companies for the acquisition and construction of groundwater recharge facilities that will enhance conjunctive management of surface water and groundwater to increase water supply reliability.

You can read more about the details of these programs at the California Department of Water Resources web site.

  The City of Daly City has approved construction of a tertiary recycled water facility with sufficient capacity to provide irrigation water to the Olympic Club, the San Francisco Golf Club, and the Lake Merced Golf Club.  Patrick Sweetland, Manager of Water and Wastewater Resources for the City of Daly City, has provided a copy of the "Award of Contract" that was approved November 12, 2002.

   That plant will soon go into service.  Here's the report from the San Mateo County Times (02/25/04).   Recycled Water Plant Opens in June; Water will help golf courses, preserve drinking water and restore Lake Merced, by Emily Fancher, Staff Writer

  Tuesday, November 5, 2002 the voters of San Francisco approved a bond issue of $1.6 billion.  While much of this money is intended to repair the Hetch-Hetchy system, $103 million has been designated to develop a recycled water program in San Francisco.  This is intended to produce 7-million gallons per day of tertiary treated recycled water for the city of San Francisco.

The Sunset/Parkside Education and Action Committee (SPEAK) adopted a resolution requesting that the PUC provide the community with monthly updates "describing what action, or lack of action, took place since the previous report" regarding the disposition of these Prop A funds.  As we obtain copies of those reports we will post them here.

Any long-term solution to the problems besetting Lake Merced depends upon restoration of the supporting aquifer.  This in turn requires that we start taking less water out of the aquifer than we put back in.  Recycled water programs, like that currently being developed by the City of Daly City to provide irrigation water for the golf courses, is a critical element of this program.

We will use this space to monitor progress toward this goal.

   You can read an overview of the PUC's Capital Improvement Plan here.  (Until they  get their page fixed this will look better if you use Windows Explorer.)

  The full Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is available here.

  Other information about the use of recycled water in California:
  In 1987 the State Water Resource Control Board conducted a comprehensive statewide survey of facilities where recycled water was used.  This survey has been updated (May 2000) and can be accessed through the following Adobe Acrobat © PDF files.
  Survey Introduction - An introduction to the survey, providing the parameters, methodology, and a list of abbreviations used in the survey.

  Survey Summary - A table summarizing the amounts of use of recycled water in individual regions and for various major categories of water use.

  Individual Facility Table - A detailed table listing all wastewater treatment plants in California where recycled water is used.

  State Map - A map of the state showing county and regional boundaries.

  The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), through the Office of Water Recycling, provides financial assistance for water reclamation projects.  Their web site reports on available funding, as well as describing existing programs throughout the state.

  The California Water Reuse Association has compiled a listing of acceptable uses for recycled water, indicating the treatment level required in each case.

  The Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) is a broad-based coalition of local elected officials, drinking water and wastewater service providers, state environmental and health administrators, engineers and environmentalists dedicated to preserving and protecting the health, environmental and economic gains that America's drinking water and wastewater infrastructure provides.

  The mission of the Water Education Foundation, an impartial non-profit organization, is to create a better understanding of water issues and help resolve water resource problems through educational programs.

  The nearby city of Santa Clara has developed an extensive recycled water program.
As of 2001, more than sixty miles of recycled water pipelines are delivering  recycled water for landscaping, playing fields, golf course, cemeteries, industrial  processing, dual- plumbing, agriculture and other non-drinking water purposes.