San Francisco resilience effort offers up to $2 million per green infrastructure project

Here’s a program that should be emulated in cities across the country and around the world.

On February 20, 2019, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has launched a new grant program to fund green infrastructure projects on public and private properties throughout the city of San Francisco, California.

A San Francisco green infrastructure project. Photo courtesy SFPUC.

The initial funding component will include $6.4 million over the next two years to encourage owners of large, impervious parcels to apply for grants to fund green infrastructure projects that manage stormwater and improve the City’s collection system performance during wet weather.

San Francisco residents want our City to be as green and clean as possible, and this grant program empowers them to pursue those goals,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr.

This unique new initiative will improve stormwater efficiencies on both public and private sites and help the City meet our ambitious long-term sustainability goals,” he added.

Property owners that may be eligible include schools, parks, community centers, faith-based centers, large box retail stores and multi-family housing projects.

The grant will cover the costs of design and construction of approved stormwater management features, such as rain gardens, permeable pavement, cisterns, and vegetated roofs.

Grantees will be eligible to receive $765,000 per acre of impervious surface managed, up to $2 million per project.

A San Francisco green infrastructure project. Photo courtesy SFPUC.

Green infrastructure projects funded through the grant program are an important component of the SFPUC’s long-term sustainability goal of capturing one billion gallons of stormwater using green infrastructure by 2050.

Public and private parcels account for the majority of impervious surface within our city,” said SFPUC Assistant General Manager of Wastewater Greg Norby. “We see incentive programs like this one as a strategic way to transform these surfaces into innovative landscapes that manage stormwater.

The grant program utilized key lessons learned from the program’s pilot project, the Stormwater Schoolyard at Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School, which completed construction last fall.

We are so excited that our schoolyard can contribute to the health of San Francisco watersheds while creating an interactive play space that encourages our students to learn about the water cycle,” said Diane Lau-Yee, principal at Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School.

Grant workshops were held on March 7 and March 14 where potential applicants and those interested in the grant learned about the program, eligibility requirements and how to apply.

A San Francisco green infrastructure project. Photo courtesy SFPUC.

The Green Infrastructure Grant Program is part of the SFPUC’s Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP), a multibillion project to improve, upgrade and replace the City’s 100-year-old underground sewer system.

The program is open year-round and applications can be submitted any time. A technical assistance team is available to assist applicants with the application process.

SFPUC is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residents, and businesses.

Featured photo of Washington, DC neighborhood courtesy of the Georgetown University Climate Center.

Learn more about the grant program.

See the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission website.

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