Morro Bay wastewater plant gets Rep. Carbajal’s approval. Will it get the loan it needs?

Morro Bay wants to replace its aging wastewater treatment plant that was built in 1953.
Morro Bay wants to replace its aging wastewater treatment plant that was built in 1953. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Central Coast Congressman Salud Carbajal has thrown his support behind Morro Bay’s proposed water reclamation facility (WRF) project.

That support could be critical to the project’s completion, as the City of Morro Bay recently submitted its application to the Environmental Protection Agency for a low-interest federal loan that will fund nearly half the project.

“Helping offset the cost of Morro Bay’s water reclamation facility is vital to pass along those savings to the community,” Carbajal was quoted as saying in a statement released by the city of Morro Bay on Thursday. “I fully support Morro Bay’s application for a (Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) low-interest loan as one way to help strategically reduce the overall financial impact of the project and increase water security in the area.”

In April, the EPA made $5.5 billion available for loans, with Morro Bay being “part of an elite group” of municipalities invited to apply, according to a city statement. Out of 43 municipalities that expressed interest, Morro Bay was one of only 12 allowed to proceed to the next step in the process.

Other California municipalities under consideration include the San Francisco Public Utilities Corporation, Orange County Water District and city of San Diego.

The Orange County Water District has already been approved, and signed an agreement Aug. 1.

“(The Orange County Water District) project “is virtually identical to the one being undertaken by Morro Bay that will turn wastewater into a drought-proof water supply through groundwater replenishment,” according to a city statement.

However, before the Morro Bay WRF project can proceed, city parcel owners and water/sewer ratepayers must be given the chance to protest a proposed $41 rate increase that would be used to pay for the project.

If 50 percent plus one of the estimated 5,800 ratepayers return a signed protest ballot to the city, the rate increase will be rejected and the WRF project, as it currently exists, will be scrapped.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler
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