US Army unveils $13bn plan to flood-proof San Francisco

A view of the Embarcadero in San Francisco, with the Ferry Building at the right and Alcatraz Island in the background (Bob Collowan/CC BY-SA 4.0)
The US Army Corps of Engineers has published a provisional plan to protect the 12km San Francisco waterfront from floods caused by rising sea levels.

It gave a rough estimate of $13bn for the comprehensive scheme, but the plan is only a broad outline and detailed design would determine final costs.

The idea is to elevate the city’s Embarcadero, or Embankment, as the front is called, and install flood barriers in other parts of the shore.

The project would raise the Ferry Building and roads along the Embarcadero by more than 2m. It would also erect barriers along Aquatic Park and Heron’s Head Park.

The draft plan does not include detailed designs for flood defences, waterfront streets, or open spaces.

The Corps of Engineers’ graphic showing its plan for the San Francisco waterfront

These elements will be refined following further public engagement and technical analyses.

The provisional plan follows six years of community engagement.

“We can all feel confident that we did something to impact future generations,” San Francisco mayor London Breed told ABC 7 News.

“We have set the seed for them to think about how we take care of the planet and leave it with better conditions than we found it.”

The project needs approval from Congress, as the federal government would put forward 65% of the money for the project, with the remainder coming from California or the city government.

Congress will vote on the plan in 2026.

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