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How to Comply with the Bottled Water Ban

On March 11, 2014, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (BOS) passed Ordinance No. 28-14, amending the Environment Code to restrict the sale or distribution on City property of
drinking water in plastic bottles of 21 ounces or less, set City policy to increase the availability of drinking water in public areas, and bar the use of City funds to purchase bottled water; and making environmental findings.

HH Igloo with cupsWe have prepared the following frequently asked questions (FAQ) to help you comply with the Ordinance.

Compliance with Bottled Water Ban on Public Property FAQs

  1. Why can’t I sell or distribute bottled water at my event?

    As per Ordinance 28-14, the sale or distribution of drinking water in plastic bottles of 21 ounces or less is restricted on San Francisco City property. This legislation went into effect starting October 1, 2014. Until October 2016, compliance is not required if an event site does not have access to potable water. Starting October 1, 2016, waivers may be issued if implementation of this ordinance is deemed infeasible by the permitting agency. Please view Ordinance for specific exceptions.


  2. Whom should I contact if I would like assistance in developing a compliance plan for my specific event?

    Please contact
  3. Are all public water sources in San Francisco potable?

    The SFPUC maintains and ensures the quality of water up to the meter. Owners of public or private properties are responsible for ensuring the quality of water on site. If there appears to be aesthetic (i.e. taste, color, odor, etc.) or health problems, or if you have general concerns with your water, please contact 311 for assistance. The SFPUC regularly tests water quality within facilities/private property for a nominal fee.

    It is the responsibility of the event sponsor to protect the water from being tampered and/or contaminated at any point after the meter connection. The following considerations should be made when determining how the water will be provided to attendees after the point of connection to the meter:

    • Any piping and fittings used to deliver the water to attendees should be above grade and protected from any possible contamination by pests or fecal matter on ground level.
    • Flushing pipes or fixtures should be conducted daily.
    • The use of end caps is recommended to prevent cross contamination when the fixture or piping is not connected or in use.
    • All fittings and plumbing fixtures material must comply with the plumbing code.
    • Qualified personnel as determined by the event sponsor should conduct the installation, preparation and maintenance of the water containers, fixtures, and fittings to the meter connection
    • If it is determined that the water quality is contaminated or compromised after the meter connection, it is the responsibility of the event sponsor to shut-off the supply and rectify the situation.
  4. Are there plans to make more permanent public water sources available?
    Since 2010, we have installed outdoor water bottle refilling stations ("tap stations") around the City as part of our Drink Tap Program. Drink Tap aims to provide everyone with free access to high-quality Hetch Hetchy tap water while on the go. Our tap stations enable you to reuse your own container rather than purchase costly single-use bottled water. Click here for a map of our outdoor tap stations as well as local businesses that we have partnered with to provide free drinking water to the public.

    To bolster this effort, the SFPUC is working on a water filling station pilot program with the Office of Contact Administration. Starting in summer 2015, third party vendors will be installing tap stations in specific locations in the City to provide free Hetch Hetchy drinking water to the public. Additionally, The SFPUC is exploring installing a high volume fill station at our Central Distribution Division at 1990 Newcomb Street.

  5. Why does the SFPUC not grant access to certain water sources for events?

    Below grade connections (such as sidewalk vaults) are not allowed due to concerns for cross-contamination of the water supply. Access points on private businesses may in fact be an option for potable water for an event, but the water from such a source is metered through the private property owner. The City does not have jurisdiction to provide access to private water for public events. If such a water source is used, an agreement must be reached between the event producer and the property owner.
  6. How can our event encourage participants to maintain good hydration and make healthy beverage choices?

    When considering event layout, sponsors should make an effort to place bottle filling stations in convenient locations, as well as provide an adequate number of stations to prevent long lines. In addition to commonly identified map points such as restrooms and first aid booths, hydration stations should be prominently labeled on event materials and signage. Vendors selling beverages must be provided with a sign/language explaining the Bottled Water Ban, along with directions to the nearest hydration station. Additionally, event sponsors should encourage participants to bring refillable bottles so that they can easily access the fill stations and remain hydrated throughout the event.
  7. How can I comply with this new Ordinance?

    In order to ensure continued access to drinking water during events, the City is working to expand availability of potable water in public areas. Using the options table, event producers can choose the most effective way of providing potable water to their participants given the scale and specifications of their event.



Last updated: 2/9/2015 3:08:25 PM