Stink sticking around in Bayview 

Sewage-treatment vats that engulf residential blocks of the Bayview district with the overwhelming smell of human waste could remain in place for more than five years.

The 1940s-era equipment, known as biosolids digesters, treats most of the sewage that flows out of San Francisco bathrooms and much of the storm water that runs into curbside drains.

Replacement of the outdated digesters is considered a priority for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission because of their reeking impacts on low-income neighbors who have also borne the health brunt of nearby power plants and heavy industry.

“The odor is terrible,” said Espanola Jackson, a grandmotherlike figure in the Bayview, community activist and member of a
task force that’s forming a decision about replacement of the digesters. “It’s not just sometimes, it’s all the time.”

The SFPUC whittled down a list of potential locations for the new digesters from 17 to two, according to Program Manager Karen Kubick.

One idea would have the digesters rebuilt farther away from homes at the existing sewage-treatment plant location. The other site being considered is at Pier 94, which would require construction of a tunnel containing pipelines to carry liquid underground in two directions for roughly a mile.

The costs will be repaid with increased wastewater-treatment rates levied through water bills.

It’s expected to cost $900 million to replace the digesters, and shifting them to Pier 94 would add $600 million, according to Kubick.

Construction would follow an environmental review period and could last at least three to four years, she said.

Interim measures are planned to reduce the smell from the existing equipment, and the new digesters will be rebuilt using tightly sealed technology that’s not expected to release odor.

The agency is conducting sewage-infrastructure planning workshops and a City Hall hearing is planned at 11:30 a.m. today.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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