Arroyo Grande quits recycled water project, well sort of

April 13, 2024


In a contradictory move, the Arroyo Grande City Council voted Tuesday to get out of a controversial water recycling project while remaining in the project’s joint power authority.

In response to years of drought, in 2016, the cities of Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach agreed on plans for a recycled water project to bring an additional 900 to 1,000 acre feet of water annually to the South County cities, even during droughts. However, the Central Coast Blue project soared in price from an estimated $29 million to a current estimate of between $135 million to $158 million, leading to a pause of the project.

Even though the group scaled back the project from five wells down to three wells, the cost continued increasing in cost.

The Arroyo Grande City Council’s unanimous vote was the first official action to quit the project. However, while the council voted to stop investing in the project, the council voted to remain in the Central Coast Blue Joint Powers Authority, which could cost the city about $80,000 a year.

The council agreed to stay in the authority in order to examine alternative water sources or projects that are less expensive, actions the authority is not contracted to perform.

The Central Coast Blue Regional Recycled Water Authority is tasked with building an advanced treatment facility with approximately five injection wells and associated transmission lines, and injection of flows from Pismo Beach’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, to provide “between 900 and 1, 000 acre feet of additional water per year,” according to the joint powers agreement the three agencies signed.

Arroyo Grande has already expended more than $2 million on Central Coast Blue.


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All one has to do to realize that backing out ids the right decision would be to check out what happened to Cambia. Close to 25 MILLION on a supposedly about 5-million-dollar project, and the thing is so heavily polluting, noisy and environmentally unsound that it cannot get permitted. CCSD was told NOT to build it. Not to mention how astronomically expensive it would be to run. Money that was much needed for infrastructure improvements, like aging, leaky pipes and a subpar effluviant emanating from our sewage plant should have been addressed with the money that was sucked up into a project that doesn’t run well enough to even be tested. Was supposed to be running by November of 2014. Our bills are now ridiculous, with NOTHING to show for it.

If you doubt me, check it out. You would be 1,000 times better off simply reinstating the beavers to your watershed. Look that up as well.

Every once in a while under every fourth blue moon, I have to agree with Francesca.

Why does a public works project go up in cost 400% in 8 years? This seems to be the pattern for all public works projects these days — huge multiples of estimates. Please CCN, do some investigative reporting to reveal what the heck is going on. (Other hugely inflated cost progressions include: Prado Road overpass, Anholm bikeway, traffic circle at Highway 41 in Morro Bay. In fact, just about every public project ends up with crazy prices. $1.3 million for a SLO dog park? Really folks?)

Ricky, one

Of the main reasons for public works projects to skyrocket in cost is lack of oversight.Design engineers typically include anticipated cost variations due to time and delays . However, engineering consultants, construction companies,project managers are all contractors.They make their money by charging billable hours just like law firms do. Meanwhile, the city engineer( who is responsible to the City itself), simply contracts the projects out to construction management, engineers , etc. The City attorney only reviews contractor reports, as opposed to auditing and evaluating every event. So then when the contractors run projects, with no oversight, you have the virtual fox in the hen house. You do not benefit from having an engineer in place to expeditiously use public works funds. Contractors have no real interest in reducing the cost of a project once it begins

Arroyo Grande’s mayor, Caren Ray Rossum, was a close friend of Adam Hill and is a SLO progressive. She has been involved in several personal scandals and fails to lead this Central Coast city in a competent fashion, it’s really sad to watch.

Sure, easy to criticize and denigrate those who decided to run for public office. I think, by and large, they do their best. I don’t remember anyone named Chlo running for city council. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Yes, it is easy to criticize and denigrate those in public office, when they are costing taxpayers untold amounts of wasted, and never to be found again, tax money for boondoggle projects that have no public equity.

Way to go AG…another expensive boondoggle with ZERO results to show for it. Add this to the Brisco Rd project which has cost taxpayers untold millions over the last couple of decades, and you’d think money grows on those sidewalk destroying trees Barneich pushes on everyone.