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Water Delivery and Supply

The City operates an extensive water distribution system using water largely supplied by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) via the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System. The local storage and distribution system, shown in Figure IF-1, serves all portions of the community. In 2004, the City prepared a Water System Master Plan that identified deficiencies within the water system and prioritized improvement projects to ensure the long-term integrity of the water system. Due to aging water system infrastructure, long-term projections for completion of improvements and annual upkeep and replacement of the system are constant necessities.

Given California’s history of severe droughts and projected increases in the Bay Area population through 2040 and beyond, water conservation is critical for ensuring that future demands can be met sustainably. Prior to the drought of 2011-2016, Burlingame water users consumed approximately 3.0 to 5.5 million gallons per day of potable water. As of July 2015, that level had dropped significantly, to approximately 2.4 to 4.6 million gallons per day. The conservation achievement was spurred both by a statewide mandate imposed by Governor Jerry Brown and collective voluntary water conservation efforts by community members. However, water use in the city is projected to rise to approximately 5.22 million gallons per day by 2040 (accounting for both residential and nonresidential users). As of 2016, the City had a water supply assurance agreement from the SFPUC to receive an allotment of 5.23 million gallons per day on an annual average. While the allotments are negotiated on a scheduled basis, with Burlingame having the ability to request an increased supply, rising water costs and the almost finite water supply means that increased future conservation measures will be needed to ensure supplies remain available.

The following goal and policies aim to improve the overall function and reliability of the water system and to encourage water conservation by all users.

Goal: IF-2

Ensure the long-term availability of water through conservation methods and regular maintenance and improvements to the overall water supply delivery system.

Improve water system reliability by replacing and repairing water lines that are leaking or otherwise meet the City’s criteria for replacement. 

Master Plans Development Review Services and Operations

Continue to improve the seismic safety of the water system, including seismic retrofits of water storage facilities and improvements to pipes near fault lines and/or subject to severe groundshaking. 

Master Plans Services and Operations

Ensure long-term water supply capacity prior to granting building permits for new development. Require that new development projects fund the full cost of upgrading water storage and supply infrastructure to meet their specific needs. 

Development Review Services and Operations

Continue to participate in the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency and purchase water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. 

Agency Coordination

Prepare, maintain, and implement an Urban Water Management Plan, including water conservation strategies and programs, as required by the State’s Water Management Planning Act. 

Development Review Master Plans Services and Operations

If the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is unable to provide water that meets drinking water standards, the City will plan, secure funding for, and procure sufficient water treatment capacity and infrastructure to meet projected water demands. 

Services and Operations Agency Coordination Financing and Budgeting

Prepare, maintain, and implement a Water Shortage Allocation Plan that distributes available water from the regional water system among San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and wholesale customers in the event of a system-wide shortage of up to 20 percent. 

Services and Operations Agency Coordination

Maintain emergency water connections in the event of disruption of delivery from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Maintain emergency wells for short duration use in an emergency. 

Services and Operations Agency Coordination

Comply with State water conservation standards. Encourage water conservation practices as a way of life. 

Services and Operations Agency Coordination

Implement cost-effective conservation strategies and programs that increase water use efficiency, including providing incentives for adoption of water-efficiency measures. 

Services and Operations Financing and Budgeting Public Information and Education

Implement programs that incentivize businesses and private institutions to replace existing plumbing fixtures with water-efficient plumbing. 

Services and Operations Financing and Budgeting Public Information and Education

Increase the use of recycled water as available, cost effective, and safe. This may include allowed use of graywater systems consistent with health and building codes. 

Services and Operations Public Information and Education

Promote landscaping approaches that include native and climate-appropriate plants, sustainable design and maintenance, water-efficient irrigation systems, and yard clipping reduction practices. Provide guidance to the community regarding preferred landscaping and irrigation practices. 

Development Review Public Information and Education