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SFPUC and Army Corps of Engineers Celebrate Ocean Beach Nourishment Project

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NEWS RELEASE
SFPUC Contact:
Will Reisman  
wreisman@sfwater.org                                                      

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2021

 

SFPUC and Army Corps of Engineers Celebrate
Ocean Beach Nourishment Project
Initiative to create 3,000-foot protective sand berm at Ocean Beach critical phase of

San Francisco’s ongoing Climate Adaptation Project

San Francisco, CA – The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today celebrated the Ocean Beach Nourishment Project, a beneficial-use initiative that will provide protection to important city wastewater infrastructure while also offering a wider beach for safer public access and recreational opportunities.

The Army Corps will place approximately 270,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from San Francisco’s Main Ship Channel onto eroding bluffs at Ocean Beach between Sloat Boulevard and Fort Funston. The project, which concludes this month, will result in a 3,000-foot sand berm that extends seaward from the Great Highway on land owned by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).

“San Francisco is committed to improving the resiliency of our environment, community spaces, and infrastructure from the ever-increasing impacts of climate change,” said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. “We must continue implementing sustainable near-term solutions like this Ocean Beach project as we advance our long-term climate solutions for the area."

The protective measure is an essential phase of San Francisco’s Ocean Beach Climate Change Adaptation Project, a long-term plan to tackle climate change and coastal erosion in the City’s westside communities.

“We have to take action today while also planning for the future if we want to address the existential threat that is climate change,” said SFPUC Acting General Manager Michael Carlin. “This project will help protect critical SFPUC infrastructure and shore up Ocean Beach while also setting the stage for our large-scale plans to mitigate the impacts of a changing climate. We want to thank the Army Corps for being great partners on this critical project.”

Last month, a large hopper dredge operated by the Dutra Group under contract to the Army Corps Portland District began pumping the sand dredged from San Francisco’s Main Ship Channel through a 30-inch pipe onto Ocean Beach. Once on the beach, the sand is shaped by bulldozers to mold the 3,000-foot berm along the eroding bluffs. All site activities are being monitored by dedicated personnel from the Portland District to ensure contractor compliance with requirements.

“What a great opportunity we have here to beneficially use dredged material and tackle a serious shoreline problem that is only going to get worse over time,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Arnett, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers San Francisco District. “I want to give special thanks to the Portland District for providing around-the-clock oversight of all construction activities from dredge to beach and ensuring a safe working environment throughout. I also want to thank the collective team, from city leaders and our partners at the National Park Service to all of the project managers and environmental specialists involved, for helping us deliver this project safely on time and on budget.”

“Portland District is excited to be part of the team, to lend our expertise to this project and work collaboratively between Corps districts, the National Park Service, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the California Coastal Commission,” said Col. Michael Helton, Portland District commander. “This project exemplifies Portland’s team-of-teams philosophy and demonstrates our technical capabilities to protect critical infrastructure from continued coastal erosion by reusing dredge material. Our goal is to execute this work safely and deliver a quality product for the region, as well as improve navigation and stabilize critical infrastructure."

Over the years, a series of dunes and seawalls have been built on Ocean Beach between the Cliff House and Taraval Street to deal with significant changes in shoreline brought on by development and other factors. The dunes have helped to limit storm impacts to public facilities and provide for a wide, user-friendly beach.

However, no protective structures were built between Sloat Boulevard and Fort Funston, and climate-influenced winter storms have caused significant beach retreat and bluff erosion in that location. The new berm being constructed by the Army Corps will help mitigate those factors.

"In order to combat climate crisis and protect our waterfront, as well as public and private assets, we must make meaningful investments in our infrastructure,” said San Francisco District 1 Supervisor Connie Chan. “This Project is the first step of many infrastructure investments to come to Ocean Beach, and I’m committed to fight for resources and funding to protect our city's infrastructure and natural resources, while ensuring equitable access for all San Franciscans."

“Our coasts are eroding, the planet is burning, and we know the climate crisis is happening now in our own backyards,” San Francisco District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar. “This necessary change to create a more resilient SF is imperative to the success of not only District 7, but citywide. I have been following the Ocean Beach Climate Change Adaptation Project very closely; I am grateful that we are acting swiftly and am looking forward to the completed work ahead!”

This project is being carried out under strict protocols and other measures to protect the environment. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, California Coastal Commission, and California Water Quality Control Board have all reviewed the project to ensure that it maintains compliance with regulatory standards.

The berm creation is a key component of the Ocean Beach Climate Change Adaptation Project, which calls for implementation of critical climate change adaptation strategies necessary to protect private and public assets near this portion of the beach.

Between Sloat Boulevard and Fort Funston, shoreline erosion is threatening the most seaward component of the SFPUC’s wastewater system — the Lake Merced Tunnel, a 14-foot diameter pipe under the Great Highway. Other agency components are located just behind the tunnel. To address erosion and sea level rise threats to this critical infrastructure, the SFPUC participated in the development of the Ocean Beach Master Plan, which led to the creation of the Ocean Beach Climate Change Adaptation Project.

The Climate Change Adaptation Project is being implemented in three sequential sub-phases: 1) Short-term Improvements, 2) Ocean Beach Nourishment, and 3) Long-term Improvements.

With the impending completion of phase two, the focus will shift to the already underway Long-term Improvements phase, which focuses on a multi-objective approach that protects critical wastewater infrastructure and promotes environmental stewardship.  The elements include managed retreat via the removal of the Great Highway between Sloat and Skyline Boulevards, removal of rubble and rock from the beach and bluffs, continued beach nourishment, coastal access amenities, and installation of a low-profile wall to protect the Lake Merced Tunnel and associated assets.

About the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residential customers, and businesses. Our mission is to provide our customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that values environmental and community interests and sustains the resources entrusted to our care. Learn more at www.sfpuc.org.