Arroyo Grande withdraws from regional recycled water project

June 13, 2021

By KAREN VELIE

The Arroyo Grande City Council voted unanimously on June 8 to back out of Central Coast Blue, a regional recycled water project set to bring a reliable water source to the Five Cities area, unless their demands are met.

After years of meetings, the cities of Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach agreed on plans for a recycled water project to bring 1,000 acre feet of water to the South County cities. In addition, the injection of recycled water into the basin could help protect against seawater intrusion.

However, in March, Arroyo Grande City Council members refused to approve the agreement unless it required union labor. Pismo Beach and Grover Beach officials rejected Arroyo Grande’s demand noting the cost to rate payers. The existing operating agreement already requires a good faith effort to hire qualified local residents, though they do not need to be union members.

On April 13, the Arroyo Grande City Council discussed the importance of acquiring another reliable water source, and then voted unanimously to withdraw from the project unless the other cities agreed to form a management committee, subject to the Brown Act, to manage the project.

Under the existing agreement, Pismo Beach would operate the facility through their public works department in order to keep overhead low. Pismo Beach officials then voiced concerns over the cost of having to vote on day-to-day operating issues.

Pismo Beach and Grover Beach responded by asking Arroyo Grande City Council members to agree to meet in a public forum to discuss their concerns.

On June 8, the Arroyo Grande City Council rejected the offer to meet, said they would no longer contribute to the project and again demanded the formation of a management committee.

Moving forward, there are multiple options available:

Pismo Beach and Grover Beach could move ahead without Arroyo Grande as a partner and with its permission to store water in the basin. Pismo Beach and Grover Beach could then sell excess water in their portfolios to other agencies.

As it is an adjudicated basin, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach could seek a judge’s order to allow them to store water in the basin, if Arroyo Grande refuses to give permission.

The state is working on modifying rules for potable water, which currently require storage in a basin, changes that could result in no basin requirement. The modification would lower overall costs and a need to get Arroyo Grande to sign off on the plans.

The cities could scrap plans for a recycled water project and ask residents to conserve water during droughts.

Pismo Beach Mayor Ed Waage said his city worked in good faith and expended funds to support water security for all three communities, with Arroyo Grande now refusing to pay their share of the costs.

“The city of Pismo Beach is incredibly disappointed in the action of the Arroyo Grande City Council to not move forward with Central Coast Blue,” Waage wrote. “Water is essential to our future and economic vitality, and we are now in a severe drought. Pismo Beach is committed to working with our partner in Grover Beach to find solutions and ensure politics does not come before action. We will continue to pursue a sustainable and drought-resistant water future.”


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robdadbod

So from what I understand, corrections and explanations invited, is that AG’s elected officials turned down a reliable water source because they wanted to use union labor for the project and not local, private companies?


horse_soldier

AG is not in a position of strength to be calling the shots, they need the water most.

Given their current financial situation, are we to believe they’re capable of going it alone?

No, not possible.


kayaknut

What financial situation, there clearly is not one, heck the current council and mayor wouldn’t even suspend their huge raise, Covid or not, so clearly there is no financial situation.


bobby N

It seems that AG city councils message that they are not requiring a labor agreement is not being reported.

The idea that it is a bad thing that the city that is paying the most gets no vote and their request for a public oversight is so easily dismissed.

Sounds like Grover and Pismo want AG citizens money but don’t want any oversight or questions.


kayaknut

You must have attended a different meeting because most of what you said differs from what was stated in the council meeting I attended, care to list your sources?


bobby N

Check the minutes of the April 13 meeting for the city request. A review of the last meeting video would also prove the comment accurate.


The real question is should the city of AG play $400,000 to attend a meeting someday in the future with apparently no commitment from the other cities to provide equal voting or any public oversight of a project costing tens of millions.

Is that what you prefer? It is not the sloppy back room dealing I want.


kayaknut

So Council member Paulding has removed his requirement for a project labor agreement? So much is missed in these Zoom in meetings, so glad that the June 22nd AG council meeting will return to in person now that we are in the yellow tier.


womanwhohasbeenthere

AG leaders apparently are more interested in pleasing their union donors than getting anything done. Too bad. These requirements are just a legal way to discriminate against the 90 percent of local contractors who are nonunion, and they also tend to drive up costs with additional paperwork. Maybe when this council is out of office, this ridiculous “union-only” requirement can be dropped and we can start to do the public’s business.


kayaknut

Obviously water isn’t a problem for Arroyo Grande because the council is still approving new building, such as near the corner of Oak Park and 101.


shishkabob141

Damn fools.


big barn

Bankrupt AG city “ leaders” would rather continue to raise water rates on citizens ( mine has doubled in 5 years) than work with neighboring cities on a viable solution for drought conditions… figures… Bankrupt AG city “ leaders” are too busy voting on rainbow flags and pay raises for themselves. Unbelievable