A program subsidizing equipment to capture storm water for irrigation has become so popular that The City doubled the money available and is expanding the storage effort to local schools.
The Discounted Rain Barrel Program, which launched in 2008, has provided nearly $10,000 worth of subsidies for 60-gallon barrels and up to 5,000-gallon cisterns.
The program enabled water officials to offer 517 discounted barrels and 37 cisterns, which are now storing up to 40,000 gallons on private properties.
This year, city officials are offering a total of $23,000 worth of subsidies and increasing the subsidy from 17 to 25 percent. This is equivalent to $40 off the first 60 gallons and $60 off each additional storage unit after that.
The cisterns allow storm water to be stored in containers and reused to prevent water pollution and save potable water instead of pouring off roofs and through the streets into the ocean, San Francisco Bay or a wastewater treatment plant. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission estimated that the additional stored-water capacity might roughly offset 750,000 gallons of Hetch Hetchy water a year.
Today, the SFPUC is expected to announce that it is partnering with the San Francisco Unified School District to install large rainwater storage tanks at seven schools.
“It is a great educational tool for kids because it extols the virtues of water conservation,” SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue said. “As a kid, you tend to go back and tell your parents about what you’ve learned at school, which is very important.”
Discounted storage containers sold for SFPUC’s rain barrel program to date:
Amount spent on subsidies:
First group of schools in new partnership signing up for cisterns, and number of gallons they are storing:
Sunnyside Elementary: 865
Jose Ortega Elementary: up to 925
Longfellow Elementary: up to 1,940
Stevenson Elementary: up to 1,940