The thorny question of where to build a new sewage treatment plant will be up for discussion tonight when officials from Morro Bay and Cayucos hold a joint meeting.
The existing sewage treatment plant is a quandary for the two communities. It needs a major upgrade that is expected to cost at least $34 million, but the state Coastal Commission does not like the proposed location near the ocean.
Analyses done by a consulting firm show that moving the treatment plant to a new location could almost double the cost, mostly because private property would have to be acquired. That’s a problem for Morro Bay Mayor Bill Yates.
“Cost is the concern that I hear on practically a daily basis,” he said. “We don’t want to spend anymore than we have to.”
The sewer plant is managed under a joint-powers agreement between the city and the Cayucos Sanitary District.
A discussion of the report recently completed by Dudek, a Santa Barbara consulting firm, will be the main item on the agenda when the joint-powers group — which consists of the Morro Bay City Council and the sanitary district board — meets tonight at 6 in the Morro Bay Community Center, 1001 Kennedy Way.
The consultants determined that the location of the current treatment plant is the best location for the new facility. They also analyzed two possible alternative sites — the former Chevron oil terminal between Cayucos and Morro Bay and 260 acres of farmland adjacent to Morro Bay along Highway 41, called the Righetti site.
The Coastal Commission will need to approve building a new plant at the current location. This is going to be problematic, said Morro Bay City Councilman Noah Smukler.
“Coastal Commission staff has been clear that the current site is unlikely to get approval,” he said.The commission has cited numerous concerns with the current location on Atascadero Road across the street from the beach. The main ones are the dangers of flooding by nearby Morro Creek and inundation by a tsunami.
Yates and Smukler would like to give the Coastal Commission a chance to review the Dudek analysis to see if there is any chance the agency would be willing to sign off on the current location.
It’s unclear when the joint powers board will make a final decision about what recommendation to bring to the Coastal Commission, Smukler said. The commission could hold a hearing on the project early next year.