Red-legged frog concerns delay controversial Morro Bay sewer project

November 7, 2019

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The possibility of causing harm to the endangered red-legged frog has caused the city of Morro Bay to halt breaking ground on its new sewer plant, and construction could now be delayed for a period of at least months.

Morro Bay has obtained federal funding for the project, which requires the city to be in compliance with rules pertaining to endangered species. Even though there have reportedly been no red-legged frog sightings in recent years at the sewer project site, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is now reviewing the project’s potential impacts on the frog species.

Morro Bay officials argue there has not been a red-legged frog sighting within a square mile of the project site since 1996. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has stated the sewer project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely impact” the red-legged frog and its habitat.

In response to the probe into potential impacts on red-legged frogs, City Manager Scott Collins told the New Times he expects the project to be delayed by several weeks to several months.

Morro Bay’s new approximately $125 million sewer plant is supposed to be constructed on a 27-acre South Bay Boulevard property near the watershed of the Morro Bay Estuary. Construction had been scheduled to begin this year, and the project was scheduled to be completed by 2022.

In addition to the delay over the red-legged frog, the project is being contested by a citizens’ group that has won the right for voters to have their say on the new sewer plant via a referendum.

Before selecting the South Bay Boulevard site, city officials looked at 17 different properties, comparing costs, impacts, technical feasibility and the property owner’s willingness to sell, Collins previously said.


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Boldguy

This site was always a bad choice, sitting just above a wetlands:(

Anyone in the know, knew this issue was going to come up, so it shouldn’t be such a big surprise!!!

Hopefully this gives enough time for the referendum to go in to effect, Morro Bay planned on ignoring it, much like the board in Los Osos did, before the citizens overturned it and was relocated to a much better location:)

Or better yet, Morro Bay’s plant doesn’t get relocated at all, only upgraded, for a fraction of the cost:)


citizensoldier

@02:07:30 “I think we have a little problem with the presentation”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNE12M9NWLo&t=303s

CMB 10 22 19 City Council Meeting


The above cite begins the latest purposefully convoluted and hypnotic presentation given by a highly conflicted consulting engineer, chosen by Scot Collins to solve the decades old Fix-it Ticket that may likely resolve itself, once the loads and flows emanating from Cayucos goes away in 2020/21.


The Cayucos project got delayed because of a change in contractors.


The longer any public works project takes the more everyone, except those paying the bills, makes.


See what I mean about “getting tape?”


aye-caramba

CALIFORNIA


Boomer5

When the Bridge on South Bay Boulevard was upgraded they hired a person to collect frogs in the construction area and place or toss them over a plastic barricade. The egrets standing on the other side would catch them in mid air or on the second bounce as they scrambled away.


Boldguy

The Bridge on South Bay Boulevard was pushed through the process by the strong leadership of Morro Bay Mayor Bill Yates!!!

If Morro Bay had a leader like Bill Yates now, the existing plant would already be upgraded and Cayucos would be paying their portion of the plant costs a well as for operation costs!!!


Rambunctious

It was a snail that was used in Los Osos…


citizensoldier

Because it’s complicated~

Here are a few “excerpted” statements to chew on:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Scott Collins, City Manager

Email: scollins@morrobayca.gov October 29, 2019

_____________________________________________________________________________________

EXTENDED SECTION 7 REVIEW DELAYS THE START OF CONSTRUCTION FOR THE

CITY’S WATER RECLAMATION FACILITY PROJECT

Morro Bay, Calif. – The City of Morro Bay has been working with the Environmental Protection

Agency (EPA) for the past several years to secure low-interest funding through the Water

Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) for the Water Reclamation Facility project.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On October 10, 2019, the EPA received a letter from USFWS indicating that, based on the

information that had been provided, that agency did not agree with EPA’s determination that

the project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely impact” the California Red-Legged Frog

and its critical habitat. The EPA responded to USFWS on October 22, 2019 with additional

information on proposed mitigation efforts and requested USFWS to update its determination.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“The City considered the Red-Legged Frog in the Environmental Impact Report and began the

review process with EPA and Fish and Wildlife in June. While the timing is unfortunate as we

are prepared to start construction, we will work expeditiously with the EPA and Fish and

Wildlife to resolve these important considerations,” said City Manager Scott Collins.

Construction on the South Bay Boulevard site cannot start until the EPA finalizes its

environmental review. Failure to comply with this process would nullify Federal funding for the

WRF project, including WIFIA and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Within the next

several weeks the City should know the approximate magnitude of the potential delays

resulting from review by USFWS.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The City plans to work with EPA to complete the process and secure the low-interest WIFIA funding, which will help reduce the financial impacts to its ratepayers. (funding is not “secured” yet)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ATTACHMENTS

Letter to EPA from USFWD (October 10, 2019)

Letter from EPA to USFWD (October 22, 2019)

Map of California Red-Legged Frog Occurrences


United States Department of the Interior

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Ecological Services

Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office


October 10, 2019

Subject: Status of Consultation for the City of Morro Bay Water Reclamation Facility

Project


Dear Ms. M____:

We are responding to your request, received in our office on July 29, 2019, for our concurrence

with your determination that the proposed City of Morro Bay Water Reclamation Facility project

(Project) may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the federally threatened California redlegged frog (Rana draytonii), federally endangered tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi),

and federally endangered Morro shoulderband snail (Helminthoglypta walkeriana). The Project

occurs within critical habitat for California red-legged frog, and you have determined that the

project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect critical habitat for the California redlegged

frog. We received sufficient information to initiate consultation on September 10, 2019.

This request includes information from our email correspondence between September 10 and

September 18, 2019. Your request and our response are made pursuant to section 7 of the

Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

We do not concur with your determination that the Project may affect, but is not likely to

adversely affect the California red-legged frog and its critical habitat.

and an additional 45 days to prepare our biological opinion (unless we mutually agree to an

extension).

We request the following information to aid in our analysis of effects of the Project to the

California red-legged frog:

• An estimate of how much riparian vegetation will be permanently removed and how

much will be temporarily disturbed along Morro Creek in order to install the pipeline

bridge.

• A description of the fence surrounding the Water Reclamation Facility building located

north of the northern terminus of South Bay Boulevard, and whether it may be permeable

to California red-legged frogs.

• A description of the detention ponds associated with the Water Reclamation Facility, and

any measures planned to prevent California red-legged frogs from entering the ponds.

• A description of the nighttime lighting installed around the Water Reclamation Facility,

and any measures to reduce its visibility.

As a reminder, the Act requires that, after the initiation of formal consultation, the lead Federal

agency may make no irreversible or irretrievable commitment of resources that could preclude

the formulation or implementation of reasonable and prudent alternatives to avoid jeopardizing

the continued existence of endangered or threatened species or destroying or modifying critical

habitat [section 7(d)].

We concur with your determination that the Project may affect, but is not likely to adversely

affect the Morro shoulderband snail if the following recommended measures are incorporated

into the project description. We recommend that the Project proponent not use silt fencing to

exclude Morro shoulderband snail from work areas. Snails can become entangled or trapped in

silt fencing that is not properly installed and maintained, and this presents the possibility of harm

to the snails. Work areas should still be clearly delineated with flagging and stakes to limit the

boundaries of work areas. If silt fencing must be used for other reasons during Project

construction, additional avoidance measures may be necessary to avoid harm to the snail. Please

contact our office for further guidance regarding additional measures if silt fencing is necessary.

We also recommend implementing the following measures to avoid impacts to the snail:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We request more information to better assess your determination that the Project may affect, but

is not likely to adversely affect the tidewater goby. Please provide:

• Information and a map of the location of the ocean outfall from which brine produced by

the treatment center would be discharged. Is the reduction in water volume proposed to

be sent to the ocean outfall anticipated to change the surface hydrology in the vicinity of

Morro Creek, its tributaries, or other areas where freshwater meets ocean water?

• Information on whether the injection wells are expected to change the hydrology of

surface water in the vicinity of the proposed injection well fields. Is there any potential

for injection of reclaimed water to change the volume, speed or direction of surface

water, including in Morro Creek, its tributaries, or other areas where freshwater meets

ocean water?

• Infonnation on whether there is any potential for hydrologic and other local habitat

changes associated with the Project to alter the frequency with which the lagoon at the

ocean terminus of Morro Creek is breached by the ocean.

Thank you for your coordination with the Service on this Project. If you have any questions or

concerns about this consultation or the consultation process in general, please contact Ms. ABC

at (805) 677-XXXX, or by electronic mail at Ms. ABC_WXYZ@fws.gov.

Sincerely…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Press Release is in the public domain. I have it because I asked the city of Morro Bay for it 2 days before the issuance of the city manager’s press release:


Here is an “excerpted” copy of my request:

From: citizensoldier

To:

Cc:

Sent: Sunday, October 27, 2019 1:21:49 PM

Subject: USEPA “problem” Letter of October 2019 to Morro Bay.


G’day City Clerk/Risk Manager,


Would you please provide me with a copy of the USEPA Letter to Morro Bay “Asking for clarification from Morro Bay regarding the WIFIA “environmental hurdle.”

To clarify, the letter I seek is the letter from USEPA, which has caused the delay in issuing the “Notice to Proceed” with construction for the RCP.


Sincerely,


citizensoldier

~~~~~~~~~~

I hope this helps: https://www.lawinsider.com/dictionary/infonnation


Because “it’s complicated…


Oh and the folks over at the USFWS are not usually considered “ECO freaks,” just sayin’…


I hope this actually makes the cut by those selecting what gets posted and what does not.


Snoid

Oh good Lord, this is pathetic. Go visit the MB plant and see just how disgusting their final effluent is. No pun, but will this shit ever stop.


citizensoldier

Greed dressed up as stupidity will never end.




Trudell as Jimmy Looks Twice


DocT

Untreated raw sewage and polluted ground water don’t hurt the frogs so much…only people.


So, to combat global warming we should NOT build sewers as this will reduce the human population and save the planet, etc.


I think I’m on the PC side of this? No? What about putting solar panels up and extra recycling-behavior containers? (nothing gets recycled…just makes us feel warm and fuzzy about using so much plastic.)


jimmy_me

I care about the planet, so I’ll be driving cross country to the latest climate control rally. I’ll be using those recycling containers along the way.


Slosum

Eco freaks seed these projects with so called “endangered species”. Yet one more case of animal before man. Frogs, snails and smelt are more important than human health needs.


SLOGROWN

Absolutely right Slosum!