SAN FRANCISCO – On World Water Day, the United Nations’ international observance of water-related issues, the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department is proud to announce its continued reduction of water use over the last three years. In response to the Governor’s declaration of drought and the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) request for a 30 percent reduction using 2013 as a baseline year, SF Rec & Park has exceeded the mandates. Since January 2013, SF Rec & Park reduced its total water consumption by 39 percent (as of December 2015). In terms of only irrigation, SF Rec & Park reduced its water consumption by 43 percent.
This was achieved through the following methods: reducing irrigation duration by 10 percent (except where time-domain reflectometer technology is installed), shutting off recreational water features that were not in closed-loop systems, reducing the run time of decorative fountains and landscape water features, prioritizing repairs related to water loss and water conservation, prohibiting the washing of vehicles (except for mowers to prevent the spreading of weeds), and by educating park users about water conservation.
Additionally, through park improvements, SF Rec & Park is continuously updating its irrigation systems to meet modern standards. A water audit by the PUC determined the parks with the greatest water loss, hence the best opportunity for water conservation. SF Rec & Park applied for and received PUC grant funds for three sites: Jefferson Square, Balboa Park, and Alta Plaza (north side). These projects generate water savings in several ways: by replacing old, leaking sprinkler systems with new irrigation lines; installing smart controllers; replanting with predominantly “no-mow” grass, a water conserving alternative to a conventional lawn; and replacing landscaping with drought-tolerant plants.
Monies from the voter-approved 2008 and 2012 Clean & Safe Neighborhood Parks Bonds have funded upgrades to playground irrigation and drainage systems that have significantly reduced water usage. Examples include the bio-retention pond at Cayuga Playground that captures storm water overflow and the living roof at Hayes Valley Playground.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve been doing at Rec & Park,” said Phil Ginsburg, General Manager. “We’re off to an even better start in 2016 and I look forward to continuing this trajectory so that our water resources and parks last for generations to come.”
Three more water conservation projects are in the works: Alamo Square, Alta Plaza (south side), and the playfields at Moscone Rec. The turf athletic fields recently installed at Minnie & Lovie Ward Rec Center and Beach Chalet require no irrigation and are playable right after the rain. The $52 million Playfields Initiative, a public-private partnership between SF Rec & Park and the City Fields Foundation, installed a total of 21 state-of-the-art play fields at nine locations across the City. By replacing damaged grass with synthetic turf that does not require watering, the project saves 25 million gallons of water annually.