Local News Matters weekly newsletter

Start your week with a little inspiration. Sign up for our informative, community-based newsletter, delivered on Mondays with news about the Bay Area.

The Port of San Francisco and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center have jointly launched a pilot project studying the use of special seawall tiles along the Embarcadero.

The Living Seawall Pilot will span at least two years, according to the two organizations, and will test the use of textured tiles along three portions of the Embarcadero Seawall.

The tiles are intended to promote biodiversity and support native aquatic species better than a traditional seawall made of exposed concrete.

“While the Bay Area has had a strong focus on ecological approaches, most of these efforts have focused on land-based solutions, such as marshes and coarse grain beaches,” SERC researcher and ecologist Andrew Chang said. “There has been less attention to opportunities to introduce living seawalls.”

A map reveals the three locations along San Francisco’s Embarcadero where the living seawall tiles will be installed. (Image courtesy of Port of San Francisco)

Researchers plan to install the textured tiles this summer at Pier 45 Breakwater, the Agricultural Building seawall and South Beach Harbor East Breakwater, which will each offer differing tide depths, wave heights and salinity levels.

The port is leading the project in an effort to address earthquake safety and the potential flooding risks presented by climate change-induced sea level rise.

The city’s three-mile rock and concrete seawall protects more than $100 billion in assets, annual economic activity and regional transportation infrastructure.

According to the two organizations, the project will cost roughly $1 million in funding from 2018’s $425-million bond measure Proposition A.