Environment

Northern Chumash chairman reverses stance, shows support for Morro Bay wastewater project

Fly over Morro Bay’s wastewater treatment plant — and get a look at its possible future

Morro Bay, California, needs to replace its aging wastewater treatment plant, which was built in 1953. The California Coastal Commission has denied a permit to build a new plant near the Pacific Ocean.
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Morro Bay, California, needs to replace its aging wastewater treatment plant, which was built in 1953. The California Coastal Commission has denied a permit to build a new plant near the Pacific Ocean.

The chairman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council has given his support to the Morro Bay Water Reclamation Facility project after initially opposing it.

In a Tuesday letter to the city, Chairman Fred Collins explained the reason for his changed position.

“After constructive negotiation and reviewing adjustments to the pipeline alignment, the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, Inc. is pleased to announce that a collaborative new project pipeline alignment satisfies the California Tribal Resource Preservation process,” he wrote.

Collins’ initial concerns lay with the route of the pipeline connecting the proposed site, which initially would have run through potential tribal burial grounds.

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In his letter, Collins wrote that “there is always the chance of hidden tribal resources,” and he urged the city to “hire the best qualified archaeological company” to consult for the project.

Morro Bay City Manager Scott Collins, no relation to the tribal chairman, said he is interested in further discussing utilizing the Northern Chumash Tribal Council’s resources “to provide training to construction crews on sensitive resources.”

City Manager Collins said the city was able to successfully negotiate with Caltrans to run the pipeline through their right of way. He said that while this would lead to a slight increase in the project’s length and cost, it would not be significant.

The Morro Bay City Council on Tuesday voted to certify an environmental impact report (EIR) for the proposed wastewater facility. Once that certification is on file with the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder’s Office, a 30-day statute of limitations for legal challenges of the determination will begin.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler

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