SF Schools to Capture Rainwater with Cisterns


SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington.


Expanding efforts to divert storm water from San Francisco’s aging sewer system and to further conserve the city’s drinking water supply, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has announced a new partnership with San Francisco Unified School District to place large rain water storage tanks, called cisterns, at seven public schools. 

The first four schools will purchase cisterns of up to 5,000 gallons with the three additional schools planning installations later this school year. The discounted cisterns are being made possible through the SFPUC’s Rain Barrel and Cistern Discount Program, now entering its third year.

“In the first two sold-out years, we created 40,000 gallons of rainwater storage capacity to conserve our precious drinking water, and reduce the burden on our sewers,” said SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington. “Perhaps even more importantly we created a hands-on educational opportunity to teach kids about the importance of water and environmental stewardship.”

Students at Lafayette Elementary School in San Francisco gardened and carried out rainwater harvesting related lessons adjacent to the school’s 3,000-gallon cistern. Lafayette is one of five San Francisco schools using cistern installations funded by the SFPUC. Four other schools have installed multi-unit rain barrel systems.

The four schools lined up to buy new cistern systems this fall are: Sunnyside Elementary (an 865 gallon system), Jose Ortega Elementary (up to 925 gallons), Longfellow Elementary (up to 1,940 gallons) and Stevenson (up to 1320 gallons). Alice Fong Yu, Clarendon and School of the Arts are in the process of planning their systems.

The program’s fully outfitted 60 gallon rain barrels and 200+ gallon cisterns are available for purchase at The Urban Farmer Store in San Francisco. The discounts are subsidized by the SFPUC’s Wastewater Enterprise. 

For more information visit http://stormwater.sfwater.org (select “Rainwater Harvesting”) or call (415) 554-3289.