Water Program

Water quality is an integral part of maintaining a clean environment. Both routine and non-routine emissions to ground and surface waters may adversely impact regional water quality. Environmental Programs administers several programs to minimize routine discharges and mitigate the impact of non-routine discharges and spills to waters of the US.

These programs include:

Underground Storage Tanks

(underground tanks for the storage of fuel and hazardous materials)

Above ground Storage Tanks

(any container 55-gallons or greater that contains petroleum products)

Industrial Waste Water

(discharges to the sanitary sewer system)

Drinking Water Quality

(drinking water quality in San Francisco)

Underground Storage Tanks


To support its medical and research operations, UCSF owns and operates multiple underground storage tanks (USTs) at three of our major campuses. USTs and associated underground piping that are used to store hazardous materials are regulated by the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the City and County of San Francisco Public Health Department (SFDPH). Operation of an underground tank system requires the following:

  • A Permit to Operate, issued by SFDPH
  • 24-hr monitoring tank systems to ensure the equipment is free from leaks
  • Annual inspection and certification of monitoring devices
  • Monthly visual inspections
  • State certification of on-site personnel (designated operator)
  • Awareness training of all personnel who have access to the system
  • Documentation of all inspections, reports, and repairs performed on the system.

Further details on the requirements of managing a UST system can be found, “LG 159 Annual Underground Storage Tank Compliance Inspection"

All UST systems are subject to annual inspection by local authorities (SFDPH). For details on inspection methodology, refer to “Underground Storage Tank Compliance Inspection Handbook", issued by SWRCB to local inspectors.

New UST installations, repairs to existing systems, and removal of old systems are subject to approval by SFDPH prior to the start of work. All communication, applications, and scheduling with SFDPH is the responsibility of UCSF Environmental Programs.

If you are proposing a new underground tank installation, need to repair an existing one, or have questions regarding these systems, please contact Environmental Programs.

If you observe or suspect a leak / unauthorized release, please contact Environmental Programs or the local Designated Operator immediately.

Above ground Storage Tanks


Aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) have a capacity to store 55 gallons or more of petroleum and that is substantially or totally above the surface of the ground.

ASTs with a capacity of 55 gallons or more must be managed in accordance with UCSF’s Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan to prevent spills and promptly respond to accidental releases.

Common ASTs may include:

  • Aboveground fuel tanks
  • Hydraulic tanks, such as elevator reservoirs
  • Standard 55-gallon drums that contain petroleum products
  • Oil filled equipment, such as:
  1. Hydraulic systems
  2. Lubricating systems
  3. Machine coolant systems
  4. Heat transfer systems
  5. Transformers
  6. Electrical switches

Additionally, ASTs have capacity limitations based on the installation design and distance to the nearest property line.

Refer to the <Guidelines for Installation of Temporary and Permanent Aboveground Diesel Fuel Tanks For Emergency and Standby Power Systems Located Outside of Buildings for more design criteria.

For information on the training, inspection, operation, maintenance, and emergency preparedness required for ASTs, please contact Environmental Programs.

Report all spills to Environmental Programs or UCSF Police.

Industrial Waste Water


The discharge of industrial waste water is regulated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). Each UCSF owned location is covered by an industrial waste water permit issued by SFPUC that established numerical discharge limits for all waste effluent. These limits are established to preserve water quality and protect the sewer system from damage. Local regulations establish limits for pollutants of concern including metals, organic compounds, toxins and pH.

All UCSF facilities are monitored annually at a minimum by SFPUC. All identified violations require a root cause investigation, mitigation measures implemented and a follow up report to SFPUC. Monitoring reports can be viewed here:

Most Recent Pollutant Analytical Results                                                 UCSF Response

Parnassus Campus                                                                                        Responses

Mount Zion Campus

Mission Bay Campus


EH&S has collaborated with SFPUC to identify non-hazardous chemicals that are appropriate for drain disposal. The approved list can be found at "Disposal Modes for Non-Hazardous Lab Waste" Only those chemicals listed are approved for drain disposal.

If you witness illegal disposal of hazardous materials or hazardous waste in the sink, please notify Environmental Programs (415.476.1300) immediately.

Drinking Water Quality


San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is responsible for ensuring high quality drinking water to San Francisco residents. The SFPUC recently released the Drinking water report, in which it was concluded that San Francisco’s drinking water supply continues to exceed Federal drinking water standards.

A full version of the report can be found at: