More than a year after the city of Paso Robles applied for state funding to break ground on its proposed $18 million tertiary sewage treatment plant, San Luis Obispo County’s two state representatives have stepped in to nudge water officials to sign the check.
Last week, second-term Democratic state Sen. Bill Monning of Carmel and newly elected Republican Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham of Templeton sent a joint letter to the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Financial Assistance, urging the agency to move the city’s funding application to the top of its list.
“We write to respectfully request that your organization make the city of Paso Robles application a high priority and proceed to issue a financing agreement for the Tertiary Treatment Facilities project as soon as possible,” the letter reads. “This will enable the city of Paso Robles to move forward with construction in 2017.”
The project is the last of three major infrastructure projects undertaken to meet the city’s growing water demands. Last year, the city finished a $47 million modernization of its sewage treatment facility, which processes about 2.7 million gallons per day. The Nacimiento Water Project, completed in 2015, brings water to Paso Robles via pipeline from the $11.7 million Lake Nacimiento Treatment Plant.
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The sewage treatment facility and tertiary plant together would allow the city to treat and recycle wastewater so that it could be used for irrigation at parks and other public properties. The proposed tertiary plant would treat the 2.7 million gallons processed daily by the sewage treatment facility to the point that it could be used to irrigate landscaping.
Once completed, the facility would produce as much as 3,300 acre-feet of recycled water per year — water that now is discharged into the Salinas River.
The city’s proposal is as ‘shovel ready’ as any project will get, and the prospect of jobs and regional economic development are at stake.
Letter from Jordan Cunningham and Bill Monning to the State Water Resources Control Board
Like the two other projects, the tertiary plant is being paid for with a combination of state and federal low-interest loans and grants. In 2014, California voters approved Proposition 1, which allocated $7.12 billion to local-level water infrastructure projects.
“The application (for the tertiary plant) has cleared the environmental and financial review processes, but it now seems to be stuck waiting for (water board) staff to prepare a financing agreement and complete a final legal review,” the legislators’ letter reads.
Local officials are preparing to advertise for bids for construction in February, but the state’s funding program requires the city to have a financing agreement in place before it incurs construction costs.
“If the city cannot meet this fast-approaching deadline for bids, the overall cost of the project will increase significantly as construction cannot begin in the optimal summer weather,” the letter states. “Furthermore, the city’s proposal is as ‘shovel ready’ as any project will get, and the prospect of jobs and regional economic development are at stake.”
Representatives from the water board’s Office of Public Affairs could not be reached for comment Friday. Should funding come through in time, the project could be completed in 2018.