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Holy H20! Lombard Street’s new irrigation system could save 175 tons of water a month

Lombard Street in bloom in October 2022 | Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The steep and curvy Lombard Street is not only known for its iconic switchbacks. The world-renowned road is also regularly in a state of bloom: Hydrangeas, poppies, roses and an array of other plant life grows along San Francisco's most famous crooked street—all of it maintained by just one local gardener and a fleet of volunteers.

But green thumbs alone cannot keep this iconic city symbol perpetually Instagram-ready. It also takes a lot of water.

It's hard to put a price on something like Lombard Street, but its antiquated irrigation system was objectively wasteful. Because it uses sprinklers that spray water into the air—and because of the street's aggressive grade—a lot of the water deployed on Lombard Street did little to keep it green, yellow or fuchsia. Much of that water just ended up dribbling down the cobblestone or evaporating, according to a San Francisco Public Works Department press release.

Jenny Board single-handedly maintains the garden that cars weave through on Lombard Street. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

The old system could run through as much as 50,000 gallons of water in a single month—that's a whopping 208 tons of high-quality H2O. But thanks to a new irrigation system unveiled Tuesday, May 16, the iconic stretch of Lombard Street will now use an estimated 8,000 gallons each month. That's a savings of 42,000 gallons, or as much as 175 tons, of life-giving liquid.

The press release estimated that the new system will save 504,000 gallons of water a year.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin—whose office worked with Lombard Street's sole gardener, Jennifer Board, and other Russian Hill neighbors on the irrigation retrofit—marked the system's debut at a ceremony near the top of the curvy beauty Tuesday morning.

Christina Campodonico can be reached at