San Luis Obispo County supervisors approve Los Osos sewer oversight contract

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a $7.6 million contract to oversee construction of the Los Osos sewer.

The vote came a week after California water officials reduced the interest rate on a loan for the project of nearly $70 million from 2.6 to 2 percent.

The reduction is expected to save some $6 million in interest payments over the 30-year life of the project, said John Waddell, project manager.

The contract approved by supervisors Tuesday hires HDR Engineering of Walnut Creek to provide construction management services for the project.

Although HDR is a global company, many of the employees working on the project live in San Luis Obispo County, Waddell said.

Part of HDR’s duties will be public outreach, which will include daily updates on the status of the project. The project is scheduled to go out to bid in March with contracts awarded in May. Construction would begin shortly thereafter.

Several Los Osos residents complained that the HDR contract is “soft money,” funds that don’t go directly toward building the sewer system. Such soft money expenditures are within 10 percent of the budget, which is typical of these kinds of projects, Waddell said.

The expense of the project continues to be an issue. The monthly cost of the project for the typical homeowner is about $160. Supervisor Frank

Mecham said he would only continue to support the project if the construction bids come in low.

The $189 million project includes the construction and installation of an entire sewage treatment and collection system to serve the 12,500 residents of Los Osos.

More than 40 miles of collection lines will have to be installed down the streets of the town.