In an effort to satisfy the future water needs of its wholesale customers, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) commissioned a series of comprehensive assessments on the area’s future water demand, conservation potential, and recycled water potential. Based on these studies, the SFPUC projects that by 2030, the total water demand of its wholesale and retail customers will increase by 14%, or 33 million gallons per day (mgd).
To meet this projected demand, the SFPUC proposes to divert an additional 25 mgd from the Tuolumne River. In response to the SFPUC’s proposal, the Tuolumne River Trust asked the Pacific Institute to independently review the SFPUC wholesale and retail customer demand projections along with the companion re-ports on water conservation and recycled water.
Our analysis reveals that the SFPUC’s studies are inadequate. They may significantly overestimate future regional demand for water. Furthermore, they underestimate the potential for cost-effective demand management and recycled water.