American Institute of Architects, San Francisco Chapter

The Future of Fresh Water in the Bay Area (2 HSWs)

Charles M. Salter Associates Inc
130 Sutter Street
Suite 500
San Francisco, CA
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AIA SF's Committee on the Environment (COTE) is happy to present a dynamic conversation on the future of potable and nonpotable water in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have asked four forward thinkers to share their vision of water reuse and conservation, to describe the possible future of water reuse, and to offer insight on the pragmatic public policy reform and public education necessary to bring their innovative visions into fruition.

Learning Objectives:

  • The current water consumption needs of the Bay Area and how they are being met
  • Viable opportunities for water reuse at a building scale
  • Viable opportunities for water reuse at a district scale
  • How public policy is being changed to allow greater water reuse in the Bay Area

Geeti Silwal will present the Resource Infinity Loop, a regenerative urban ecological paradigm that reclaims wastewater locally through ecologically advanced treatment processes and reuses it in food-producing landscapes like urban farms, freshwater constructed wetlands, and aquaculture ponds. This paradigm necessarily entails a decentralized, resource-recovery ecosystem model and requires more than a thoughtful design approach. It requires a clear shift in our mindset to realize the potential of reusing wastewater for food production; it requires clear wastewater reuse guidelines and policies that allow such an ecologically regenerative city.

Josiah Cain will discuss integrated water management (IWM) at multiple scales, including storm water, rain harvesting, and gray and black water reuse. He will contextualize IWM within a framework of urban metabolics, ecological performance, and the energy/water nexus, demonstrating how managing water and ecology as an integrated component of the urban fabric can enhance the ways our cities operate.

Laura Tam will make a compelling argument about why water reuse throughout our region is an important sustainability tool that we need to begin planning for right now: The Bay Area is growing rapidly. It is riven with earthquake faults. And it’s already experiencing climate change. Given all this, how is your water supplier preparing to meet future demand? A new SPUR report, "Future-Proof Water," sizes up the region’s water supply and demand and recommends ways to improve water reliability and sustainability well into the future.

Paula Kehoe returns to AIASF to discuss what ordinances now exist for the Bay Area and how folks can comply; how to move forward with on-site treatment systems for the collection, treatment, and reuse of alternate water sources; and the directions in which public policy needs to move in order to expand the reuse of this very valuable resource.

About the Speakers

Josiah Cain is a licensed landscape architect, academic, and consultant with more than twenty years of direct experience in the sustainable design industry. His expertise is in ecological integration, design strategy, green infrastructure, water innovation, and site sustainability. Josiah is a regular presenter at many universities and conferences and has provided design services to major clients in residential, civic, and corporate sectors. Josiah is the founder of Design Ecology, a San Francisco Bay Area design and consultation firm providing expertise nationwide in sustainable development solutions and integrated building ecology. He is also a Senior Designer at Sherwood Design Engineers.

Paula Kehoe is the Director of Water Resources for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). For more than seven years, she served as Public Education Director for the Water Pollution Prevention Program and received six state and national public education awards, including the Water Environment Federation’s Public Education Award and Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies’ National Public Education Award. Paula participated in the development of the Effluent Management Training Course for the Water Environment Federation and conducted the course in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt on behalf of USAID. Currently, Ms. Kehoe oversees the development of groundwater, recycled water, desalination and dry year water supplies for the SFPUC, as well as public research regarding alternative supplies to develop communication strategies and messages for multiple water supply projects.

Geeti Silwal is a dynamic Urban Designer at Perkins and Will's San Francisco office. She brings great passion working with communities to identify issues and develop visions for better and healthier cities with emphasis on regenerative solutions in urban environment. She has published and spoken widely on the reuse of wastewater in an effort to find closed-loop, zero waste solutions for water, food, and energy security. Her passion to find zero waste solutions, especially regarding water, incorporates regenerative solutions in her work. She brings broad experience working with communities to develop visions for better cities with a strong focus on sustainable planning practices. Geeti holds a Master's degree in Urban Design from UC Berkeley and a Bachelor's in Architecture from Jadavpur University.

Laura Tam is the Sustainable Development Policy Director for the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), a nonprofit public policy think tank for which her focus is on climate change, water issues, energy, and green buildings. She has written a prioritized climate action plan for the City of San Francisco, proposed priorities for the city's wastewater master plan, and successfully advocated to shut down the Potrero Power Plant, among other things. She runs SPUR’s initiative on climate change adaptation, which has produced numerous public programs, advocacy, and several major research reports on how the Bay Area can adapt to sea level rise and the water supply challenges wrought by climate change. She has also served on two task forces convened by the Mayor of San Francisco to advance renewable energy policy. She has a Master’s degree in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and a Bachelor's in Geography from Dartmouth College.