Morro Bay officials say they need to hear soon what residents and businesses think about how the city should handle its wastewater and sludge in the future. So they’re holding a public workshop Thursday.
It’s the latest step in what has so far been a lengthy planning process filled with stops, starts, twists and changed directions.
The city originally planned to update the existing sewage-treatment plant on Atascadero Road, which operates under a joint powers agreement between Morro Bay and the Cayucos Sanitary District.
The plant’s last major update was in 1984, and some of the equipment dates to the early 1950s, according to Rob Livick, Morro Bay’s director of public works.
However, there were difficulties with putting more money into the aging plant. For instance, its Atascadero Road location is close to both the ocean and Morro Creek, making it susceptible to seasonal flooding, tsunamis and sea-level rise because of climate change.
Then the 2012 election changed the makeup of the Morro Bay council. In January, the council agreed with California Coastal Commission staffers’ recommendation to deny the original project. That caused a rift with Cayucos, because the Sanitary District board wanted the proposal to be withdrawn, in case the two communities had to return to it in the future.
Now, Morro Bay’s Public Services Department and the City Council are again looking at nearly 20 possible plant sites, including the 160-acre Righetti Ranch property on the eastern edge of the city, and are considering several treatment processes.
Livick agreed that the final selection likely will hinge to a great extent on how much more city residents, business owners and property owners are willing to pay to have their sewage treated.
The previous plan was estimated to cost roughly $38.18 million, he said; building a new facility at Righetti carries an estimated price tag of $41.75 million.
While the Coastal Commission staff considered those figures too high, Livick said the council had wanted the estimates to be realistic but conservative, saying it was far easier on the public to hear later that the costs were going to go down, rather than up.
Meanwhile, Cayucos is examining its own options, both separately and with Morro Bay.
Cayucos Sanitary District board President Robert Enns is to speak about that community’s sewer plan at an Aug. 19 meeting of the Friends of the Cayucos Library.
To learn more about the sewage-system plans
• Morro Bay will offer a public workshop to get community input on a location and other details for a water-reclamation facility from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 209 Surf St., Morro Bay. For more information, email John Rickenbach, project manager of the Morro Bay Water Reclamation Facility project, at email@example.com or call 610-1109.
• Cayucos Sanitary District will give a presentation about the community’s sewer plan at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 19 in the Cayucos Library community room, 310 B St., Cayucos.