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Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance

red tiled public restroom with steel wash basins and mirrorsLast updated 12/5/2018

Properties that missed the 1/1/2017 compliance deadline are subject to code enforcement unless one of the following actions has been taken:

  • Replaced non-compliant fixtures and submitted an affidavit to DBI
  • Submitted an affidavit to DBI even if all fixtures were already compliant
  • Contacted DBI to request a variance due to special circumstances
  • Received prior approval for fixture replacement through the SFPUC's Plumbing Fixture Replacement Program and upon completion of retrofits, submitted an affidavit to DBI.

To avoid enforcement actions, properties with compliant fixtures that haven't submitted an affidavit to DBI should do so ASAP. Properties with non-compliant fixtures that believe they qualify for a variance should also contact DBI ASAP.

Click here for a copy of the Commercial Conservation Affidavit form: English, Spanish, Chinese

Click here for updated Frequently Asked Questions. 

Replacing old, water-wasting plumbing fixtures with new efficient models is one of the most important steps to help conserve and protect California’s water supplies. Several state and local measures require property owners to install water-conserving plumbing fixtures. The SFPUC and Department of Building Inspection (DBI) are partnering to provide information to building owners on local water efficiency ordinances and how to comply with requirements. 

Effective July 1, 2009 two ordinances updated local water efficiency laws for San Francisco properties: the Residential Water Conservation Ordinance and the Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance.

Do the requirements apply to me?

Commercial Water Conservation At a Glance

To conserve water by ensuring efficient plumbing fixtures in commercial buildings.

Who Must Comply?
Commercial property owners by January 1, 2017.

Municipal Code
Building Code, Article 13A

Resources for Compliance
Compliance Fact Sheet
Frequently Asked Questions

Effective Date 
July 1, 2009

Department of Building Inspection (DBI) 
(628) 625-3450

The Commercial Water Conservation Ordinance applies to all existing commercial properties. This ordinance requires commercial building owners to repair plumbing leaks, replace inefficient plumbing fixtures, and to have submitted a completed Commercial Water Conservation Affidavit to DBI by January 1, 2017 that verifies all plumbing fixtures are compliant. All commercial properties must submit a completed affidavit, even if all their plumbing fixtures are already efficient.

How do I comply?

Inefficient plumbing fixtures must be replaced with efficient fixtures that meet current California plumbing code. The SFPUC offers financial incentives and technical assistance for the replacement of inefficient plumbing fixtures. Specifically, the Ordinance requires that all leaks be repaired and all existing fixtures with flow rates that exceed the rates noted below be replaced with new water-efficient models that meet current California plumbing standards:

  1. Showerheads with a maximum flow rate over 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) (Additionally, no showers may have more than one showerhead per valve)
  2. Faucets and faucet aerators with a maximum flow rate over 2.2 gpm
  3. Water closets (toilets) with a maximum rated water consumption over 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf)

Need to replace a non-compliant plumbing fixture?

California plumbing code requires new plumbing fixture installations to meet the following water use rates:

  • Showerheads ≤ 1.8 gpm
  • Kitchen faucet aerators ≤1.8 gpm
  • Private lavatory faucet aerators ≤1.2 gpm
  • Public lavatory faucets ≤ 0.5 gpm
  • Toilets ≤ 1.28 gpf
  • Urinals ≤ 0.125 gpf

Compliance with the requirements must be completed through DBI's Plumbing Inspection Division. For more information, or to request a variance, email, call (628) 625-3450 or visit

Need help?

The SFPUC provides free services, plumbing devices and incentives to assist customers with meeting water efficiency requirements:

If you have a questions about SFPUC water conservation programs to help you comply, contact the Water Conservation Section at (415) 551-4730 or email

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Last updated: 11/6/2020 2:14:05 PM