The effects of climate change are chipping away at the coast hard enough that the Oceanside (sewage) Treatment Plant is at risk of being itself flushed into the Pacific Ocean.  

Those of you who were in San Francisco in the late 2000s may remember a whimsical protest ballot measure effort to name a sewage plant after George W. Bush. That measure was defeated, and so the treatment plant that refines our, erm, wastewaters and such and sends them a few miles out to the ocean remains the Oceanside Treatment Plant. But wastewater infrastructure issues are plaguing the city, and the Oceanside plant has the additional problem: the coastline beneath it is literally crumbling away. The city has a plan for this, and the Examiner reports that a coastal erosion plan to save the sewage plant will eliminate about 3,500 feet of the Great Highway near the San Francisco Zoo and require some shoring up of Ocean Beach itself.

For drivers, this will mean detouring about a mile-and-a-half via Skyline and Sloat Boulevards. For surfers and visitors, this means new parking, restrooms, and a coastal trail. And for the sewage facility, this represents a “managed retreat” to position its precious parts as far from the coast as possible for erosion management purposes.  

“This is the first place this will be happening in the state of California. It is a big deal,” SFPUC project manager Anna Roche said at a recent committee hearing on the matter. “We will be removing the Great Highway between Sloat and Skyline. That move triggers a lot of changes.”

Per the Examiner, Roche also noted that shoring up Ocean Beach is vitally necessary to saving the Oceanside plant as storms grow more intense along this stretch of coast and sand gets washed away. "We have experienced 25-year storms where we have lost 40 feet of bluff," Roche told the committee meeting, "and we are currently about 50 feet from that trigger zone."

This being San Francisco, the project is significantly delayed and over budget. The latest estimates are $60 million higher than previously estimated (for a total $151 million project), and a year-and-a-half behind schedule.

Construction does not even begin until 2023, with a targeted completion date of 2027. You have to figure there will be additional time delays tacked on, so the facility may not be at full poop-processing power until nearly the 2030s. In other words, that stretch of Great Highway isn’t going anywhere anytime too soon. But any climate change benefits wouldn’t be realized until about a decade from now either, at which point we may be underwater, burned from acid rain, or evolved into mutants with gills and webbed feet.

Related: San Francisco Spends $16,000 On Jokey Video About Sewage System

Image: Google Street View