Natural Spring The Likely Source of Haight & Divisadero Sidewalk Seepage

Natural Spring The Likely Source of Haight & Divisadero Sidewalk Seepage
Photo: Andrew Dudley/Hoodline
By Rose Garrett - Published on January 12, 2015.

Over the last few of weeks, we've noticed a peculiar phenomenon at Haight and Divisadero. A couple of avid Twitterers have documented the issue, which consists of water slowly but steadily seeping from the sidewalk.

What gives?

We asked Charles Sheehan of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission about the issue. "We have actually been dealing with this issue for over a year now," he said, noting that the SFPUC's initial tests were conducted a year ago.

"We have performed a water quality test on the water to determine its source and we have ruled out water from our in-City distribution system," he said. "We have also performed leak tests to further rule out our pipes in the area. Again, we have not found any indication of leakage."

"Long story short," he said, "this doesn’t appear to be our water."

 Though the SFPUC is performing one more leak test today, Sheehan said that this is most likely a natural spring seeping up through the sidewalk. "This is not an uncommon phenomenon, especially considering the massive rainfall we had in December."

And there you have it, inquiring minds. 

Update, 1/13: We asked Sheehan about what the city's protocol is for a scenario like this, and here's what he said:

"The little sidewalk spring at Haight and Divisadero isn’t an unusual phenomenon. San Francisco has a rich watershed with many creeks and streams and this has happened before in other parts of the City. Again, the above-average precipitation in December is probably the reason for this sidewalk spring.

Unfortunately, there is very little we can do stop the natural drainage of water. It has to go somewhere. Its current direction, into a sewer catch basin, is much more preferable than a basement."

For more on the city's history of subterranean springs, you can check out this article by local fixture Joel Pomerantz, entitled 'San Francisco's Clean Little Secret.'