Site near Morro Bay Power Plant deemed best for sewage treatment facility

A 12-acre site south of the Morro Bay Power Plant is the best place for the city’s new sewage treatment plant, according to a new report recently released by the Morro Bay Public Works Department.

The 344-page report examined the viability of seven locations in and around Morro Bay as potential sites for a new treatment plant. The cost estimates to build a new treatment plant range from $90 million to $160 million, depending on the location.

The Morro Bay City Council will discuss the report when it meets Tuesday night. The council’s goal is to make a decision on the new site by the end of the year, Rob Livick, director of public services, said in a staff report.

The city is looking for a new location for its sewer plant because the state Coastal Commission rejected plans in January to rebuild the plant at its current location near the beach at the end of Atascadero Road. Morro Bay runs the plant jointly with the Cayucos Sanitation District.

The report was discussed at a public workshop Nov. 5 that was attended by about 50 people. It has also been reviewed by the city’s Public Works Advisory Board.

Reaction to the report has ranged from “sticker shock” at the price of the new plant, to concerns about odor problems, Livick said. The city is considering holding another workshop Nov. 23 to get more public input.

The seven sites analyzed in the report in order of ranking are:

  • Power plant: The site is on 12 acres of the southernmost part of the Dynegy Morro Bay Power Plant near Highway 1. It ranked highest because its location within the city made it the least expensive option at $90 million.

The site was also favored because, although it is close to the bay, it is not in a floodplain, is on an undeveloped part of an industrial site, would not be visible from Highway 1 and does not have agricultural soils or endangered species habitat.

  • Morro Valley: On 663 acres east of the city along the north side of Highway 41, this site came in a close second behind the power plant site. It’s also known as the Righetti site. The state Coastal Commission recommended last year that the plant be relocated here, according to an August 2012 Tribune report. Estimated cost is

    $100 million.
  • This site is advantageous because it is farther inland and has farmland nearby that could take some of the plant’s treated water for irrigation. The property is also large, which would give the city flexibility in its design and layout.

  • Chorro Valley: This 783-acre site is within city limits near Highway 1 and South Bay Boulevard. Estimated cost is $110 million.
  • Giannini property: This is a 36-acre property east of Highway 1 overlooking the Morro Valley south of Little Morro Creek. Estimated cost is $100 million.
  • Chevron: This 160-acre site is where the old Morro Bay marine oil landing terminal was located north of the city on Highway 1. Cost to build the plant here is estimated to be $110 million.
  • Panorama: This is a 9-acre site in north Morro Bay that currently contains two oil storage tanks. Estimated cost at this site is $110 million.
  • California Men’s Colony: This 119-acre site contains the sewage treatment plant for the California Men’s Colony prison. This site was ranked lowest because it is nearly five miles from Morro Bay. Estimated cost is $160 million.
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