A recent study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with the city of Pacifica (requested in 2016), concluded that the cost/benefit of building a $10 million wall along Beach Boulevard can’t be justified. The Army Corps’ estimated cost of $28 million to $45 million is for a seawall that won’t be undercut by the ocean. This doesn’t include the cost of beach nourishment, etc.
Which would have the greater impact on our city, the failure of the wall or the failure of the pump station? Only 12 percent of Pacificans live in the coastal flood zone, while 40 percent (more than 16,000 people) are dependent on the Sharp Park pump station. If the pump fails, raw sewage could be backed up to the very ends of the system.
Nothing precludes Pacifica from getting future funding for this kind of seawall. But the odds keep shrinking as more and more coastal areas appear in harm’s way. Who will pay for the seawall costs that are not covered by the feds or some other outside entity? Most troubling about this process is that the cost of a seawall this size was known at the time of the city’s request five years ago. On the chance that funding could dry up for a seawall, why isn’t our government looking into alternatives to the wall while concurrently working on the sewer system?
Since the purpose of the seawall is to protect the sewage system, has the city spent any money or time for planning or fixing the sewer infrastructure? Our city government seems to be ignoring the sewer system. Minimally, the city must prepare a cost analysis of the sewer system redo (including the pump station) before any more money is spent on other Sharp Park projects.
The problem of fixing the sewer system is not simple. Many coastal cities are facing similar risks and researching different solutions. Their research could be helpful to Pacifica.
And, yes, it’s about the money. Pacifica has a finite amount. Why have we not seen a cost comparison between the restructuring of the sewer system and the seawall? It could be very enlightening. We need to reconsider our priorities and broaden our scope if we’re to stay solvent. Now.