Water Equity Clearinghouse

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

San Francisco, CA

Despite the city’s economic growth in recent years, San Francisco has one of the nation’s largest income disparities. As the first public utility to adopt an Environmental Justice Policy in 2009 and Community Benefits Policy in 2011, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) demonstrates how public water and wastewater utilities can serve as catalysts for expanding economic inclusion; creating job opportunities, revitalizing low-income neighborhoods, and building community resilience. The Community Benefits Program includes a broad range of initiatives focused on education, adult and workforce development, economic development, land use and neighborhood revitalization, and arts and culture that are engrained into the three utility enterprises—water, power, and sewer.

Efforts to Advance Water Equity

One of the ways the SFPUC’s Community Benefits Program has been able to maximize investments to upgrade the regional water and sewer system is through its Social Impact Partnership Program. This embeds community benefits opportunities into all professional service and alternative design request-for-proposals of $5 million and above. Contractors can receive incentive points by including voluntary, firm, and measurable community benefit commitments in their proposal. To date, the SFPUC has 58 contracts that include $15.5 million in commitments to local nonprofits and schools in the form of direct financial contributions, volunteer hours, and in-kind donations throughout the life of the contract. By institutionalizing programs such as the Community Benefits Program and its Social Impact Program, the SFPUC is ensuring these values are embedded in all aspects of the utility business and leaving a legacy of benefits behind for the communities most impacted by their service.

Geographic Scale:
Type of Organization:
Pillar 2
Vulnerable Populations Served:
Lower-income Communities