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San Francisco Water Conservation Ordinance

by sfishome on July 21, 2009

San Francisco Water Conservation Ordinance – amendment passed as of July 1, 2009

Low flow toilets, among other things, are now required when most homes or condos sell in San Francisco, or with major remodeling. While I’m re-printing the entire article I’ll share a bit of good news in what appears to be costly news for Sellers:
The SFPUC provides free shower heads and faucet aerators to San Francisco residents and there is a rebate program to reduce the cost of water-efficient toilets.

The cost of hiring a plumber, and/or ripping up the floor if necessary for a toilet replacement will be your biggest costs. Additionally, if you are trading up, while you must do it on your sale, at least your new place will have it put in by that Seller. In addition, this will put San Francisco on the cutting edge of water conservation.

Here’s the reprint:

NEWS

Amendments to Water Conservation Ordinance Become Effective

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed and Mayor Gavin Newsom has signed into law amendments to the city’s Water Conservation Ordinance. The amendments took effect on July 1, 2009.

Amendments to Chapters 12 and 12A of the San Francisco Housing Code for the “the conservation of existing water supplies by reducing the overall demand for water in residential buildings.” Under the amendments passed by the Board, water conservation devices, including water-efficient shower heads, faucet aerators and ultra low-flow toilets, are required to be installed in all residential buildings, except for tourist hotels and motels, upon the occurrence of specific events such as when a building undergoes major improvements, when there is a meter conversion, when there is a condominium conversion, and when there is a transfer of title.

A summary of the amendments reprinted from the REALTOR® Association:

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The amendments expand the scope of retrofit work required under the existing 1991 ordinance upon the occurrence of specific events, such as when there is a transfer of title. That ordinance required residential property owners to replace toilets if they had a flush volume of more than 3.5 gallons per flush, along with other water fixtures.

Under the amendments, the following water conservation measures are required for residential buildings:

“Water efficient shower heads having a maximum rated flow of not more than 2.0 gallons per minute at a flowing water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch and faucets and faucet aerators having a maximum flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute at a flowing rate of 80 pounds per square inch. In addition, all toilets having a rated flush volume exceeding 1.6 gallons per flush must be replaced with models that are rated at a maximum flush volume consistent with the maximum flush volume established in the San Francisco Plumbing Code, Chapter 4, Section 402.2, as it may be amended [currently 1.6 gallons per flush].” In addition, sellers must locate and repair all water leaks.

The amendments refine but do not change the basic structure of the ordinance, which requires inspections by qualified inspectors using a form provided by the Department of Building Inspection (DBI), filing and recordation of that form at the time of sale when title to a residential property is transferred by the seller to the buyer. In particular, the ordinance with the amendments requires the following:

A valid water conservation inspection and subsequent compliance with required water conservation measures shall be required of any residential building concurrently with the energy conservation inspection and compliance requirements.

A standardized form provided by the DBI and certifying compliance must be signed by a qualified inspector, furnished to the building owner or the owner’s authorized representative, and filed with the DBI within 15 days from the date of completion of the inspection.

When all of the water conservation requirements have been met, a certificate of compliance must be signed, filed with the DBI and recorded with the San Francisco County Recorder’s Office. (In the event of a title transfer, the certificate may be recorded concurrent with the transfer of title.)

The imposition of “reasonable fees” but not exceeding the cost of implementing the ordinance.

The following water conservation measures are required for residential buildings:

Replace all shower heads that have a maximum flow rate that exceeds 2.5 gallons per minute. Showers shall have no more than one shower head per valve.

Replace all faucets and faucet aerators having a maximum rated flow exceeding 2.2 gallons per minute at a flowing water pressure of 60 pounds per square inch.

Replace all toilets that have a rated flush volume exceeding 1.6 gallons per flush with models not exceeding the flushing volume established in the San Francisco Plumbing Code as it may be amended. (A seller of a residential building may request an exemption from replacing the building’s toilet(s) if the replacement would impact the architectural integrity of the building. In such case, the seller is required to install a device within the toilet to reduce the flush volume such as a flow restrictor.

The seller must locate and repair all water leaks. For one- and two-unit residential buildings, water meter registration shall be use to confirm the existence of leaks. For three- or more unit residential buildings, seller may either comply by ensuring no meter movement for ten minutes while all household features are shut off, or by completing a visual inspection for leaks. In addition, in all residential buildings, all tank-type toilets shall be tested with leak detector tablets or dye to detect slow valve leaks, and all flushometer-type fixtures shall be visually checked for proper operation with respect to timing and leaks.

Any person with an interest in the property subject to a water conservation inspection who contests the determination of a qualified inspector required water conservation measures may appeal said decision to the Director of the DBI within 10 working days from the date the completed inspection form was filed with the DBI.

The seller or the seller’s authorized representative must furnish a copy of the completed inspection form showing compliance to the buyer prior to transfer of title.

Further, there continue to be exemptions from the ordinance. They include, without limitation:

Transfers pursuant to a court order;

Transfers to a mortgagee by a mortgagor in default;

Transfer by a fiduciary in the course of the administration of a trust;

Transfers from one co-owner to one or more co-owners;

Transfers made to a spouse or domestic partner or to a person or persons in the lineal line of consanguinity of one or more of the transferors;

Transfers between spouses or domestic partners resulting from a decree of dissolution of a marriage or a domestic partnership or a decree of legal separation or from a property settlement agreement incidental to such a decree;

Transfers resulting by operation of law; and

Transfers by which title to real property is reconvened pursuant to a deed of trust.

The seller, or the seller’s authorized representative may transfer responsibility for compliance with both the minimum energy conservation measures and the minimum water conservation measures to the buyer of the building, if at the time of transfer, certain conditions are met, including but not limited to withholding one percent of the purchase price in escrow to pay for the required conservation measures within 180 days after the recordation of title. Previously, the ordinance only permitted this transfer for the minimum energy conservation measures.

The seller, or the seller’s authorized representative involved in the sale or exchange of residential building shall give written notice of the requirements of the water/energy conservation ordinance to the buyers. An informational brochure specifying the energy and water conservation requirements shall be made available by the DBI. Delivery of this brochure to the buyer shall satisfy the notice requirements of this section.

The SFPUC provides free shower heads and faucet aerators to San Francisco residents and there is a rebate program to reduce the cost of water-efficient toilets.

To view a copy of the Residential Water Conservation Ordinance, click on the first link below. To view Frequently Asked Questions concerning the amendments, prepared by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, click on the second link below.

http://sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/bdsupvrs/ordinances09/o0076-09.pdf

http://sfwater.org/detail.cfm/MC_ID/13/MSC_ID/168/MTO_ID/357/C_ID/4642/ListID/2

More detailed information also is available by calling the SFPUC Water Conservation at 415-551-4730 and on the web at www.sfwater.org.

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