Morro Bay picks new site for sewage plant

December 11, 2014

morro bay plantThe Morro Bay City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to attempt to move its sewage plant to a location near Highway 41 about a mile outside the city limit. [Tribune]

Following the direction of a consultant, the council chose the 187-acre Rancho Colina property, situated in Morro Valley agricultural land near Morro Creek, as its desired location for the new plant. Capital costs for moving the plant to the Rancho Colina location are estimated at $75 million.

Last year, the California Coastal Commission rejected the city’s initial plan to rebuild its current sewage plant, which is in a state of decline. The plant is located near the ocean on Atascadero Road.

Rancho Colina project costs are less than half of the expenses involved in moving the plant to California Men’s Colony, which was the last remaining option the city was considering. Doing so would cost approximately $161 million, according John Rickenbach Consulting.

Currently, Morro Bay jointly owns its sewage plant with the Cayucos Sanitary District. The sanitary district will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss whether or not it should partner with Morro Bay in the project.

If the Cayucos opts to part ways, Morro Bay ratepayers would face an added hike to their water bills.

Morro Bay officials could reduce the impact of moving the plant on ratepayers by acquiring grants and making shrewd engineering and construction decisions.


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31 Comments

  1. Myself says:

    Wow, we could have a sewer plant on one of the main highways coming into town,lets see one of the arguments by the granola crowd was the old plant hidden at the end of Hwy 41 was able to be seen from a spot on the highway one, that spot being on the overpass going over 41 and if you are looking at just the right angle to see it,BUTT should ht eplant get built out hwy 41 you’ll be able to see it for at least a mile as you travel on 41.
    The argument of a tidal wave hitting the existing plant is pretty small and really in the grand scheme of things doesn’t mean squat,how about the people living at the Dunes trailer park don’t you think they need protection from this tidal wave,they are even closer than the SP,how about the people at the Coisters and all the beach tract don’t they deserve protection from this tidal wave,how about the water front won’t that get hit also and lets not forget most all of Cayucos, we would have a huge loss of life and property of we get the big one, that sewer plat would be a drop in the bucket compared to would would happen to these homes and people.
    Didn’t you people read the paper last week, one of the people from the State said there is no hurry to get this plant rebuilt and there is no gun to your head.
    Putting a couple mil a year into this plant and upgrading it where it is is makes the most sense.
    The coastal commission isn’t the last word here on what goes on, this can be taken to court and beat,we the rate payers cannot afford this stupidy.

    (2) 12 Total Votes - 7 up - 5 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      Upgrade the existing plant? Really?

      I strongly suggest that those who think the site where the current plant is located is safe check out the 2009 flood hazard study done for the old WWTP project. Among other things, the report says, ““Staff coordinates with the neighboring Hanson Aggregate owners regarding the orientation of their yard and supplies. Flood waters from the southeast first cross the Hanson property. When Hanson has stock on hand of large concrete block, they store the blocks on-site in a manner that directs flood waters to Atascadero Road rather than through the WWTP.”

      The existing flooding problems, and the fact that no feasible way of dealing with them could be found, are the reasons that the idea of upgrading the existing plant was abandoned. You do not put critical infrastructure in a risk-prone area. The rate payers of course do not like paying more, but neither would they like trying to live in a town where the sewer plant had failed due to inundation by flood waters.

      Clearly, the majority of Morro Bay residents agree that leaving the plant on the beach is very bad idea, or they would not have overwhelmingly voted this last June for the candidates openly committed to moving the plant – defeating by very large margins the candidates who wanted to keep the plant where it is. Irons defeated Wixom 2189 to 1666 and Makowetski defeated Nancy Johnson 2375 to 1449.

      There appears to be some kind of behind-the-scenes funny business going on regarding the illogical insistence of a few people that the sewer plant should stay where it is – and it has nothing to do with saving money for the rate payers.

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

        And where did the ignorant voters think the money was going to come from.
        When we had the last big flood and the fuel tanks at the south end of main st were in danger of getting washed out the concrete plant and the city corp yard and sewer plant were high and dry,even though the area of the now Estero glass shop and hwy one were under 3 ft of water.

        (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
  2. diamond says:

    Gonna have to rename it Rancho colon.

    (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
  3. mb business owner says:

    Lets be clear, the California Coastal Commission NEVER heard the project. jamie irons and christine johnson and smuckler pulled the project BEFORE it got to hearing. The original project was approx. 35 million and slated to be finished in 2015/2016. Now the new project is 75 million and slated to be finished in 2020 (which will not happen). Remember the new project is still within the Coastal zone and just as a number of people appealed the original project – including christine johnson’s husband, so will people appeal the new project on highway 41 – perhaps maybe ever the residents that live nearby. This will become a huge albatross around the necks of the residents and hopefully they will keep in mind who tied that albatross around their necks.

    (4) 20 Total Votes - 12 up - 8 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      The original project was a ridiculous scheme to build a plant on a site located a flood zone, a tsunami zone, in an area subject to shoreline erosion and to liquifaction in an earthquake. The project was so ill conceived that Coastal Commission staff wrote a 12-page letter about all the things that were wrong with it. It would NEVER have been approved because it was just plain dumb.

      The Coastal Commission staff HAS written a letter of support for the new project, which is a very big deal. People who are mad because their faction has lost all its political power in the City may very well decide to appeal just to make trouble, but they will not win, just like they don’t win elections anymore.

      People who live near the site for the new plant are much more likely to be happy than unhappy, as they will be getting rid of the existing, and reportedly very smelly, Rancho Colina sewer plant in exchange for a new facility. There are new technologies that can be used to build plants that look and smell just like office buildings.

      (-2) 22 Total Votes - 10 up - 12 down
      • mb business owner says:

        I am so glad that you have a crystal ball to let us know that the original project would not have been approved, as you well know, the 12 page letter from Coastal Commission staff was wrought with inaccuracies, so much so that when the Coastal Commission staff received the response to their 12-page document from the City staff, thecoastal commission staff were so flummoxed they cancelled the original hearing – remember that, I know you do. Time will tell, but my bet is there will be no new plant in morro bay for 10+ years.

        (2) 18 Total Votes - 10 up - 8 down
        • MajorityFan says:

          We all seem to have the same crystal ball, except you. Do you need three No’s from the Coastal Commission until you believe it?

          (-10) 14 Total Votes - 2 up - 12 down
          • mb business owner says:

            um, a vote of 3 no’s would be a resounding approval of the project since there are 12 Coastal Commissions. Try to stay informed dude.

            (2) 10 Total Votes - 6 up - 4 down
        • Jack Smith says:

          MB Business Owner sounds like you’re betting man, let’s wager a $100.

          (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
      • racket says:

        Um … the Coastal Commission isn’t the final authority. They regularly overstep their bounds and are brought back down through judicial action.

        (4) 14 Total Votes - 9 up - 5 down
  4. taxpayer says:

    It should be mentioned that the California Coastal Commission denied the approval of the old site at the direct request of Mayor Jamie Irons. In the near future people on fixed incomes will find that they have made an expensive mistake. Maybe the proposed increases coming to the sewer bills in Morro Bay will cause everyone to finally see that Morro Bay has been led down a very costly road.

    (6) 16 Total Votes - 11 up - 5 down
    • MajorityFan says:

      And they were ready to deny it again. And then we would waste another 2 million and get it denied again.

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

        Actually, they were ready to vote on the project. We’ll never know if they were going to deny it again because they weren’t given that opportunity. As far as 2 million dollars is concerned, we’ve already spent that much keeping the old plant functioning for the past two years. By the way, these estimates don’t include any plan or contingency for water storage, which will be huge.
        Have fun paying for something for the next 10 to 15 years which may very possibly never be built.

        (2) 12 Total Votes - 7 up - 5 down
        • MajorityFan says:

          It was made very clear how they were going to vote on it.

          (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
          • taxpayer says:

            You keep rewriting history. Those of us who watched the meeting know that they never discussed this item except to ream the City of Morro Bay for asking for denial after their staff had worked on it for 9 years. They complied and in the process told the city that, through their actions, they had now made that property unusable for anything, ever. The citizens of Morro Bay have had extreme financial damage done to them for years to come. Eventually, they will see that when they realize they can’t afford to pay their sewer bill.

            (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
  5. panflash says:

    The article concludes by stating: “Morro Bay officials could reduce the impact of moving the plant on ratepayers by acquiring grants and making shrewd engineering and construction decisions.”

    Don’t count on this Morro Bay city council making any “shrewd…decisions.” After all, we ARE talking about the current council run by Mayor Jamie Irons, right?

    If they ever make any “shrewd” decision on anything, it will likely be the first time.

    (10) 20 Total Votes - 15 up - 5 down
  6. MBvoter says:

    So Steve has been trying for years to annex his property and has now found a way. Rumor has it he was in jeopardy of not getting his current sewer plant re permitted. There has been no mention of purchase cost of the property…which the city could probably get free since he needs this deal. The cities capital projects mngr. that’s working on water reclamation for the avocado farmers is one of the property owners out there that would directly benefit. (No conflict of interest there) It’s unfortunate that the city didn’t contact ranch owners in the Choro Valley about placement of a sewer plant where we could recharge the aquifers that feed our city wells. Hold on for the ride Morro Bay residents and open your pocketbooks this is going to be expensive

    (8) 16 Total Votes - 12 up - 4 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      At the Council meeting Tuesday night there was some discussion about using water from the Rancho Colina plant for recharging the Morro Basin aquifer, which feeds the City’s Morro Basin wells. Just by using it for irrigation, you’ll get some recharge, but they mentioned possibly using injection wells.

      So, either way you get your aquifer recharge, and at least the Morro Basin wells can be used. Only one of the Chorro Basin wells can be used; the others were shut down by the State, with no word on when they might be used again.

      (-2) 12 Total Votes - 5 up - 7 down
  7. taxpayer says:

    Doesn’t the City’s project manager for this project have an avacado farm on Hwy 41? Talk about a conflict of interest!

    (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      I doubt if that made any difference.

      So far as I know, nobody on the WRF Citizens Action Committee has an avocado farm on Hwy 41, and they voted 8 – 1 to advise the Council to build at Rancho Colina. Also, Carollo Engineers did an extensive analysis and comprehensive report comparing the two sites, and came out heavily in favor of Rancho Colina. It seems unlikely (although possible) that they have avocado farms on Hwy 41.

      It seems doubtful that the project manager could have convinced all those people to push for Rancho Colina just to help him out.

      If you do a public records request for the final Carollo Engineers report, “Comparative Site Analysis: Regional CMC Facility vs. Rancho Colina”, dated December 9, 2014, and look at page 77, you will see a long list of reasons why the engineers concluded that, “Long-term benefits of water reuse in Morro Valley exceed those in the Chorro Valley”. The report also contains extensive, detailed cost analysis.

      (2) 14 Total Votes - 8 up - 6 down
  8. Pelican1 says:

    Oh, and by the way, the $75 million estimated cost will surely double by the time the project is completed….guaranteed.

    (12) 20 Total Votes - 16 up - 4 down
    • itneverends says:

      So would the Men’s Colony $161 Million option.

      (6) 14 Total Votes - 10 up - 4 down
      • Pelican1 says:

        The CMC idea is crazy. It’s already a troubled system with far too many subscribers and a high spill incident rate.

        (11) 19 Total Votes - 15 up - 4 down
        • kayaknut says:

          No worries, when they have a spill and get fined the taxpayers pick up tab, so no problems….

          (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
  9. Pelican1 says:

    I’ll bet the residents of Rancho Colina mobile home park aren’t any too pleased.

    (8) 18 Total Votes - 13 up - 5 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      Actually, they are probably very pleased. The park has its own sewage plant that is old and not in such great shape, and reportedly pretty stinky. That existing Rancho Colina facility will be demolished once the new one is in place. The plan is for the new facility to serve the mobile home park as well as the City of Morro Bay.

      (-3) 15 Total Votes - 6 up - 9 down
      • Pelican1 says:

        Very pleased UNTIL they get the bill from the city? These are pretty much people on fixed incomes. Can they afford what the city is going to have to charge them to help pay for this new facility?

        (2) 10 Total Votes - 6 up - 4 down
        • MajorityFan says:

          Then we will move them to Arroyo Grande, the land of milk and honey.

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

            I think you have summed up our current Mayor and City Council’s attitude towards fixed income seniors and low income working people very nicely. They’ve got nothing to worry about. Let the cleansing of Morro Bay begin because they rule it necessary. How sad!

            (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
            • MajorityFan says:

              You don’t read satire that often, do you?

              (-2) 4 Total Votes - 1 up - 3 down

Comments are closed.