Coastal Commission rejects wastewater treatment plant proposal

November 18, 2010

After six years of working on plans for their new multi-million dollar wastewater treatment plant, Morro Bay and Cayucos apparently will have to start all over.

The California Coastal Commission staff has issued a report rejecting the design of the project, its location, its lack of capabilities, and the absence of possible alternatives to the proposed new plant—which is proposed to be sited in a 100-year flood plain and also would not produce the volume of purified processed water that the city may need badly in the near future [SloCoastJournal]


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22 Comments

  1. 3stacksandarock says:

    The Coastal Commission stated in 2006:

    “Morro Bay’s discharges (i.e., Morro Bay’s wastewater treatment plant discharges) are relatively small compared to those of major California POTWs; for example Morro Bay’s discharges are less than 0.5% of the volume of any of the large California POTWs. Moreover, there is little industry in Morro Bay, especially when compared to these major dischargers. EPA and the RWQCB have both reviewed Morro Bay’s application. EPA’s independent TechnicalEvaluation has determined Morro Bay to meet the applicable Clean Water Act standards.”

    “The Commission finds that evidence to date does not exist that would indicate that the discharges are adversely affecting sea otters… Monitoring results for the past 5 years and the available evidence about threats to sea otters support Morro Bay’s claim that the discharges comply with secondary treatment waiver requirements and would not adversely affect marine resources. Based on EPA’s analysis, including a review of plant performance and modeling efforts performed since the previous permit was issued, the outfall does not appear to be resulting in any significant reduction in light transmissivity, any biologically significant changes in benthic community structure in the vicinity of the outfall (beyond the zone of initial dilution), or any significant changes in fish populations or fish diseases in the area.”

    Given Morro Bay’s performance and monitoring results, why are we even discussing an upgrade to the WWTP and spending 30 million?

    (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
    • Mythbuster says:

      Because of the word “waiver?” Isn’t it going to expire? In order to get a permit once again to discharge, certain upgrades, now to national standards, must be done.

      (1) 7 Total Votes - 4 up - 3 down
    • brook says:

      3stacks

      Since when is tearing down a facility and replacing it on a different part of the site an “upgrade”? A new facility is what’s under discussion here – not a paint job.

      (-2) 6 Total Votes - 2 up - 4 down
      • Mythbuster says:

        Oh, I didn’t say an upgrade was a paint job, did I?

        (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
        • brook says:

          Clean up? Grab a broom. There’s a split personality on aisle 4. :-)

          (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  2. mbactivist says:

    Paperboys, you have vivid imaginations and little to no valid information. TWO years ago, the CCC told the City some things that had to be in the DEIR, and the people in charge of the project chose to ignore them, even though they knew the CCC had the authority to stop the project. They also ignored our own LCP, and as if that were not enough, they tried to pass off a plant replacement as a plant upgrade. Residents who know what they are talking about have been warning about this for a long time, but the people running the project refused to listen to anyone. Not smart. Now, the project team’s incompetence and their refusal to follow our own laws have cost us all a ton of money that has been completely wasted.

    What is particularly fascinating is how doggedly some people cling to the current location despite the fact that it is a really DUMB place to put a WWTP – especially in a time when standalone plants that need no ocean outfall can be built easily and economically. Would moving to a new location result in the discovery of things under the ground at the current plant site that some people would prefer not to have found? Is there some kind of plan related to the current site that special interest groups want to protect? Could it be connected to power plant property development plans?

    Clearly, something is going on behind the scenes, and the special interest groups are up to something, as usual. Hopefully, with the intervention of agencies like the CCC, they will not get away with their shenanigans. The CCC is one of the agencies that protects the interests of the good people from the schemes of the not-so-good ones. Pretty much everyone knows that, regardless of a few people making silly comments to the contrary.

    (0) 10 Total Votes - 5 up - 5 down
    • taxpayer says:

      The California Coastal Commission is nothing but a bunch of wealthy political cronies. They have no interest in what’s right for the public. They are a bunch of unelected stooges who do what they are told.
      Anyone who thinks that turning a local project over to the State will result in a better result for the locals should have their head examined. The State only has a 26 billion dollar deficit!

      The further decision making gets from local government decision making ,the more expensive everything becomes. Linda you need to get a life because you obviously have nothing to do but complain about what’s really going on. Go outside, take a walk and quit listening to Jack McCurdy. You have become the laughing stock of Morro Bay.

      By the way, how did election turn out for you? The people voted and your side lost. Get over it!
      The majority of Morro Bay citizens are aware that you and your cronies are responsible for the waste of a lot of staff time lost and people being forced out of business. What have you done for Morro Bay lately except complain and whine. Fortunately, with the new City Council, things will get done and progress will be made to make Morro Bay a better community.

      (3) 19 Total Votes - 11 up - 8 down
      • mbactivist says:

        Taxpayer, you are sounding more and more desperate all the time – and some of us know exactly why. Recent events have you scared, and with good reason. When State agencies step in and document numerous violations of local law and of the public trust, it changes things. Those of us working to stop certain people from destroying this town financially and otherwise are not alone anymore. :)

        (-1) 13 Total Votes - 6 up - 7 down
      • brook says:

        taxpayer. Nice fantasy you got going there. Morro Bay better? Not going to happen under current circumstances. Morro Bay will continue to be a piggy bank for a chosen few. The new/old Mayor and the puppets will do as they’re
        told. That’s why it’s always important for you to find and advance a slate that will keep their end of the bargain.

        Betty Winholtz didn’t “follow orders” and actually tried to act in the best interests
        of the people -All the People – who live and work in Morro Bay. And that just
        fried your eggs, didn’t it? It powered your campaign style – and it looks as if you’re still uneasy. As well you should be. Nobody’s whining. They’ve got your number.

        (-4) 12 Total Votes - 4 up - 8 down
      • Moderator says:

        Linda? no . mbactivist ? yes.

        (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
    • 3stacksandarock says:

      There are different kinds of conspiracy theory: ones that events were faked, such as the moon landings or that ‘official versions’ of events are false, such as the Kennedy murder or the death of Diana. There are those that believe in meta-conspiracies: that the Jews secretly run the world through their grip on business, finance and the media; that freemasons are secretly in charge; that secret societies from the Bilderberg group, or Opus Dei subvert democracy. I remember seeing some private polling suggesting that a sizeable chunk of Britain’s Muslims believe that 9/11 was a plot by the US and Israeli secret services, not terrorists. There are plenty of people who believe that no Jews were killed in the Twin Towers, having been warned to stay at home. There’s a whole industry of people who believe 9/11 was a set-up to provoke a war in the middle east. Even within the Labour party, there are those that suggest Hugh Gaitskell was murdered by the KGB to make way for their agent Harold Wilson. These conspiracy theories are anchored in the counter-culture of the 1960s, and in a mindset that nothing is as it seems, that shadowy forces direct the shape of our society, and that only the enlightened few can see the ‘truth’. It borders on paranoia, with a view that ‘they’ will stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden.

      (0) 8 Total Votes - 4 up - 4 down
      • zaphod says:

        I enjoyed your comment right up to “These conspiracy theories are anchored in the counter-culture of the 1960s”. I was raised by a charter member John Birch Society Latter Day Saints parent, the big conspiracy story then was Dwight Eisenhower’s a communist agent ! Central to the right wing paranoia was/is the Council on Foreign Relations/Illuminati/ theory that Billy Graham and Richard Nixon talked about on tape. This theory is based on The Learned Elders of Zions/Banking scheme to control the world, composed by anti-Bolshevist Czarist police,from a reworking of an anti Napoleon screed circulated by the Vatican who were worried
        about his ambitions. I almost missed the sixties because I was so young, most of the fear uncertainty and doubt of the 1960s came primarily from the religious right wing, they were the ones with the most to lose. same as it ever was. Death panels fear of foreigners fear of government mostly from the religious right,1960s fear of the police, that is the left’s paranoia for sure, I’ll give you that.

        (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
  3. Paperboys says:

    Boy people put a lot of emphasis on a document making comments on a draft EIR.
    As I read it, the CCC wants a better, more thorough analysis done and has not said to move, stop or do anything else with the project. They need the extra analysis to satisfy the LCP and the Coastal Act. It’s all red tape and circus hoops that have to be jumped through.
    The CCC likes to stick its nose in these WW projects and the state law clearly gives oversight and regulatory authority to the state and regional water boards.
    If you think this project is expensive now, just think if got moved to Chorro Valley or Morro Valley, which would place it outside the city’s jurisdiction and into the hands of the Board of Supervisors. If you think the city and CSD have wasted a lot of money, just wait until it goes over to the county planning department. Plus anywhere in Chorro Valley would be visible from Hwy 1 (much more so than the current plant site, that’s for sure) and violate the scenic viewshed regs in the LCP.
    And moving the plant might seem like a good idea but would be extremely difficult and costly. You have to pick a site, and buy the land. And if the owner doesn’t want to sell, you’d have to go through condemnation proceedings, something the city of Morro Bay has never done and which the city council has a policy to avoid. That’s probably 3-5 years right there.
    You’d need to secure all the rights of way needed to run the new sewer mains out to wherever you put a plant. And even if you could get the reclaimed water to the farmers or a golf course you’d still need a way to discharge the waste water when the customers don’t want it (like every time it rains) because while you don’t irrigate crops or water lawns when it rains, people still use the toilet, shower, wash clothes and cook, so the flow to the plant is still going to be there.
    So you either have to have tens of millions of gallons of storage (tanks) to hold the waste water until the rain stops and the ground dries out sufficiently to irrigate again, or discharge it into a creek or the ocean.
    Maybe the CCC will kill the project and we can go tell the RWQCB that ‘Hey, we tried, but the state won’t let us upgrade this plant.’ Save everyone $31 million plus interest that way.
    This sort if situation is the exact reason the State of California is broke. Too many agencies sticking their authority into places that are supposed to be covered under another agency. It all over laps into a weave and becomes a blanket of bureaucracy that’s smothering our state.
    CEQA needs to be rewritten and the entire bureaucratic process simplified. We need clear divisions of the authority between the different agencies. Until we get that the state bureaucracy will continue to smother us.

    (9) 21 Total Votes - 15 up - 6 down
  4. mbactivist says:

    Taxpayer, once again, you are seriously misinformed. The plant design and location violate numerous provisions of Morro Bay’s own Local Coastal Plan and are totally inappropriate.

    The staff and the JPA majority have done an absolutely terrible job on this project, which has already cost taxpayers much more than necessary. The fact that they have spent many years doing things wrong is NOT something they should be commended for. It’s time to do this job right, and clearly the only way to make that happen is to put the State agencies in control so that corrupt local influences cannot continue to rob citizens in order to benefit special interest groups.

    Not long ago, the City of Morro Bay absolutely refused to put a fire station at the corner of San Jacinto and Hwy 1 because the site is in a flood plain and a tsunami zone. Yet, they are quite willing to locate a sewer plant a short distance down the road, even closer to the ocean, and right next to a creek that floods. How dumb is that? At least you can move firefighters and their equipment out of harm’s way if a flood or tsunami occurs. It would be just a little bit difficult to do that with a sewer plant. This is only one example of the incredibly poor judgment of those running this project.

    As for the SLO Coast Journal, I can see why you don’t like it. and, indeed, are afraid of it It is one of the few places besides the Cal Coast News where people can find the truth about what is really going on around here, as opposed to the “party line” presented by some of the so-called news sources.

    Can you honestly be so misinformed as to believe that the people working at the SLO Coast Journal stopped the power plant remodel? Give us a break! It was the Federal Government that did that, with the new rules against once-through cooling.

    Rant all you want, but you can’t fight the truth – something that the Coastal Commission obviously sees.

    (0) 16 Total Votes - 8 up - 8 down
    • 3stacksandarock says:

      Linda, the City never refused to put a fire station at the corner of San Jacinto and Hwy 1 because the site is in a flood plain and a tsunami zone. Try to get your facts right for once.

      (-3) 9 Total Votes - 3 up - 6 down
      • Moderator says:

        Linda ? no…. mbactivist ? yes ! reader’s confusions and comment etiquette .

        (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
      • mbactivist says:

        They are straight. You just don’t want to admit it. There was an exchange of messages (in writing, by the way) on this several years ago. The fact that the proposed fire station site at Coral and San Jacinto was in a 100-year flood plain and a tsunami zone was definitely discussed. In fact, I believe one official (I remember who it was but will not mention the name) also said something about it being in a 500-year flood plain. In one message, another official, talking about the general area said (and I will only use part of the statement to protect the person’s identity), “….with minimal fill allowed to keep buildings above the flood plain level. It’s interesting to note that even in 1991, there was some hesitation about this being the appropriate location for a fire station.” Too bad they couldn’t quite see that having the WWTP in the path of the same sorts of natural disasters wasn’t such a terrific idea either.

        (-5) 9 Total Votes - 2 up - 7 down
        • 3stacksandarock says:

          mbactivist…your comments are so disgustingly false it is amazing. Actually entertaining.

          Sorry, but you were not here in 1991. Those that were here and are familiar with the Cloisters Development know the “Officials” that you are trying to hide behind.

          The statements you cite had nothing to do with the fire station but an attempt to stop the Cloisters development altogether. I am sure if you had it your way, like the “Officials” you are trying to protect, the Cloisters development would never had been built. What a shame it would be not to have this beautiful gem of a well developed neighborhood park with walking paths that lead to south and north beach access ways and beautiful wetlands area.

          The same “Officials” you hide behind also recently attempted to stop the Harborwalk project. Just like you now desire to stop building any other homes in MB through FAR, even though you live in a large home on a small lot that would never comply with your FAR formula.

          The City went through extensive studies and determined that the location at San Jacinto and Hwy 1 did not properly serve the needs and response times for the City. Flood Plains had nothing to do with not selecting that location. Ask any “Friends of the Firefighters” and they can verify why that location was not chosen.

          Getting back to the issue of the WWTP, the Coastal Commission stated in 2006:

          “Morro Bay’s discharges (i.e., Morro Bay’s wastewater treatment plant discharges) are
          relatively small compared to those of major California POTWs; for example Morro Bay’s
          discharges are less than 0.5% of the volume of any of the large California POTWs. Moreover, there is little industry in Morro Bay, especially when compared to these major dischargers. EPA and the RWQCB have both reviewed Morro Bay’s application. EPA’s independent TechnicalEvaluation has determined Morro Bay to meet the applicable Clean Water Act standards.”

          “The Commission finds that evidence to date does not exist that would indicate that the
          discharges are adversely affecting sea otters… Monitoring results for the past 5 years and the available evidence about threats to sea otters support Morro Bay’s claim that the discharges comply with secondary treatment waiver requirements and would not adversely affect marine resources. Based on EPA’s analysis, including a review of plant performance and modeling efforts performed since the previous permit was issued, the outfall does not appear to be resulting in any significant reduction in light transmissivity, any biologically significant changes in benthic community structure in the vicinity of the outfall (beyond the zone of initial dilution), or any significant changes in fish populations or fish diseases in the area.”

          Given Morro Bay’s performance and monitoring results, why are we even discussing an upgrade to the WWTP and spending 30 million?

          Why…because of people like you. Please leave MB and take your negativity about everything with you.

          (-1) 9 Total Votes - 4 up - 5 down
  5. undertow says:

    Obstructionists? You sure? I suppose shutting down the likes of a corrupt project to be managed by a corrupt local engineering/managment firm could be considered an obstruction, an obstruction to letting the good ole boys have their way…boo hoo. Get your facts right taxpayer.

    (0) 20 Total Votes - 10 up - 10 down
  6. taxpayer says:

    This headline is very misleading. There’s a big difference between the Coastal Commission staff and the Coastal Commission. Morro Bay is moving forward in the best possible way to eliminate the possibility of becoming another Los Osos. I appreciate everything that Morro Bay’s staff and City Council are doing toe move forward to meet the timeline that the obstructionists have forced upon the City. The SloCoast Journal is a propaganda piece ,at best, put out by the same people who forced the power plant remodel to be stopped. The elections have proven that the taxpayers have had enough of their NIMBYism.

    (4) 26 Total Votes - 15 up - 11 down
    • brook says:

      The headline isn’t misleading. The response to the EIR may have been from the Coastal Commission staff, but it’s clearly based on the rules and regulations of the Commission. A staff in concert with its’ governing group may be difficult for some to
      comprehend.

      The fact that the City of Morro Bay, staff and JPA have spent so many years and so
      many dollars on a project that would garner such criticism is the real shame.

      You do realize, don’t you, that it’s difficult to say that the situation isn’t similar to Los Osos when so many of the same characters are repeating the same tactics?

      Your assertion that the CalCoast Journal is a propaganda piece is also an inaccurate declarative.

      Propaganda:”: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person “.

      It simply reported the contents of the letter and the circumstances surrounding it.
      I believe that’s called “history” -and to invoke Los Osos once again, you know what
      they say about history, don’t you?

      (0) 16 Total Votes - 8 up - 8 down
      • racket says:

        Brook sez “A staff in concert with its’ governing group may be difficult for some to
        comprehend.”

        Isn’t that the bug that kept buzzing Winholtz’ bonnet? Staff working with the City Council?

        (1) 7 Total Votes - 4 up - 3 down

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