More city public schools on tap to collect rainwater

The money isn’t falling from the sky, but collecting rainwater will save the school district cash.

Four San Francisco public schools will be adding cisterns to capture and reuse rainwater before the end of the calendar year, contributing to the thousands of dollars in utility savings.

Nik Kaestner, the San Francisco Unified School District’s director of sustainability, said Sunnyside, Robert L. Stevenson, Jose Ortego and Longfellow elementary schools were awarded community-challenge grants that will allow them to install 5,000-gallon tubs, known as cisterns, to capture rainwater.

Cesar Chavez, Lafayette, Starr King and Miraloma elementary schools are among those that already harvest rainwater. In total, 15 schools utilize it.

Kaestner said the growing acceptance and use allowed the district to expand its recycled-water ­projects.

“The popularity of reusing rainwater really hit The City 18 months ago,” he said. “That’s when the [San Francisco Public Utilities Commission] finally started publicizing rainwater harvesting and the legal issues around the code were finally changed to allow for harvesting of rainwater. So, we jumped on the chance and installed a simple multibarrel system at Cesar Chavez.”

The installation of these four cisterns will ultimately save the district thousands of dollars in water bills. Though amounts are specific to school sites and water consumption, Kaestner said, the cisterns are meant to reduce the reliance on water from Hetch Hetchy.

“All these schools have gardens and using superclean water on them is overkill,” he said. “This water can be used to water vegetable and native-plant gardens.”

Retrofits to use the captured rainwater in school toilets would cost thousands of dollars and may come in the future, but for now, the tubs are a happy medium, according to Kaestner.

The cistern installations will take a matter of days, Kaestner said. All schools should be up and running to capture water before the rainy season begins, typically in November. He said the rainwater collected should last one year at each school.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an event to name President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Kamala Harris to resign from Senate

Bridget Bowman CQ-Roll Call Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the… Continue reading

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pelosi called for the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
Feds seeking woman whose ex says she stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during Capitol riot

Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer Federal authorities have obtained an arrest warrant… Continue reading

Most Read