Morro Bay lays out plan to keep community informed about new sewer plant

Beginning next month, the city of Morro Bay will hold a series of workshops and outreach events to introduce the public to its plans to build a $75 million sewage treatment plant and a $25 million reclamation facility.

At a City Council meeting Tuesday night, the city’s consultant on the project, Mike Nunley, presented several steps the city will take to educate the public, coordinate with stakeholders and provide information about the plan.

The city’s goal is to build the project within five years, and Nunley’s public outreach campaign is designed to help keep the city, as well as the public, abreast of key details to stay on that schedule.

Nunley’s firm, MKN, will work with the city and sub-consultants John Rickenbach Consulting and RRM Design Group on formulating community workshops, stakeholder meetings and technical presentations on the proposed sewage treatment facility and water reclamation plant, which would recycle treated wastewater.

They also will develop a website over the next few months to share information on the project.

“Maintaining community trust will be critical to ensure the project keeps moving on an expedited schedule, even if unforeseen challenges arise or new information is uncovered,” Rickenbach wrote in a report to city staff.

The first of multiple community workshops will be held mid-October (no date set) with a technical presentation set for Oct. 17.

At its regular meeting on Oct. 13, the City Council will choose a consultant to guide the city through the California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act processes.

Also, the Water Reclamation Facility Advisory Committee group will meet Oct. 6 to discuss grant and loan opportunities, as well as issues related to environmental review.

Councilman Noah Smukler suggested the city reach out to Cal Poly to coordinate student input on possible designs of the new reclamation facility, which the city plans to do.

The city still hasn’t formally completed its purchase of the preferred site for its facilities at Rancho Colina, located a mile east of the city limits off Highway 41. Property owner Steve MacElvaine said he and the city are still working out some of the details before a transaction is made.

“Both sides are still very interested in moving this forward,” MacElvaine said last week in a phone interview.

The city plans to send a surveyor to the property and a fatal flaws analysis still must be completed to rule out any potential environmental and cultural impacts that could kill the project at that site.

The analysis includes the reports of technical experts, including geologists, archaeologist and botanists.