by Marielle Earwood, SF2011
It’s been about six months since I started the City Hall Fellowship and I am happy to say that I could not be more excited with my placement! As a City Hall Fellow, I have been fortunate enough to work at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) helping to develop an Urban Watershed Planning Framework (UWPF). This framework is a component of the new SFPUC integrative watershed approach, spear headed by the Wastewater Enterprise (WWE) as a part of the Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP). The SSIP is a collection of capital projects created to ensure that the SSIP Level of Service Goals are met. These goals include: minimize flooding, increase system reliability and sustainability be a good neighbor (odor control), and to help the sewer system adapt to climate change.
The integrated watershed approach includes the planning of possible Low Impact design projects, green infrastructure projects including rainwater harvesting, permeable pavement, day lighting creeks, and the creation of more green spaces. These LID projects help manage stormwater while at the same time can enhance the surrounding environment.
The UWPF will also be used as a capital projects decision-making tool that applies Triple Bottom Line plus (Environmental, Social, Economic and available technology) analysis. It is intended that the tool will help the WWE prioritize top SSIP projects while taking the social, environmental and economic implications into account. It is incredible to be a part of such an innovative, cutting edge program. Through the creation of additional green infrastructure and retrofitting existing grey infrastructure, stormwater can be captured, slowed and diverted from the collections system during the wet weather season. The diverted water can then be used for groundwater recharge and recycled water for irrigation. The SFPUC WWE is implementing cutting edge approaches to stormwater management and watershed analysis, and it’s only the beginning! How exciting is that?
The WWE conducts phenomenal work to ensure that San Francisco residents can happily and safely flush their toilets. I got to tour the treatment plants here in the city and was fascinated by how biological wastewater treatment can be. During one of the treatment steps, the wastewater is inoculated with bacteria! Incredible! Through this placement, I continue to learn about how the city of San Francisco operates for its residents, and have been able to enhance my communication and coordinating skill sets. Almost everyday I am in the face of a new and interesting challenge, have learned so much already, and look forward to the days to come!