Morro Bay holds its first tour of water facility project site


Several Morro Bay City Council members, the mayor, and city manager joined members of the media and others for the first tour of the city’s water reclamation facility on Oct. 12.

As construction crews and trucks continued their work at the site on South Bay Boulevard north of Highway 1, a small opposition group held signs at the site's entrance that read, “cut the crap, not the ribbon.” Many project opponents are critical of the project’s price tag, estimated at $126 million.

CONSTRUCTION UNDERWAY Six months into construction, the city of Morro Bay held its first tour of the Morro Bay Water Reclamation Facility project. - PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • CONSTRUCTION UNDERWAY Six months into construction, the city of Morro Bay held its first tour of the Morro Bay Water Reclamation Facility project.
Addressing a crowd, City Manager Scott Collins said he appreciated the chance to see and share the project’s progress, safely, given the challenges of this year.
“All planning on this project began in earnest in 2013, following the [California Coastal Commission’s] decision to move our project inland. And we have been working closely with local and state agencies, private firms, community members, and advisory committees to make this compliant,” he said.

After six months of construction, more than 75,000 cubic yards of soil have been moved on the site, a basin and tank are under construction that will collectively include 600 tons of concrete and 28 tons of rebar, and 23-foot-tall walls are being constructed. The water reclamation facility is expected to be finished in November 2022, and the water recycling facility completion is projected for December 2023.

To date, he said, the project has involved several companies and suppliers, creating more than 50 construction-related jobs.

Collins said the project is an investment to replace the city’s existing aging wastewater treatment plant, protect the environment, and provide safe, clean, and reliable water for Morro Bay.

“Statewide utilities are facing significant infrastructure regulatory water supply and water quality challenges. The city of Morro Bay met that challenge head on. Not only is this infrastructure meeting state and federal requirements, we also created the added benefit for our community in the form of contributing more to our drinking water supply,” Collins said.

Once finished, the facility is projected to provide up to 80 percent of the city’s drinking water needs. Collins said the city is also committed to addressing the project's affordability.

“We are proud to have secured a $62 million federal low-interest loan which will save the city of Morro Bay ratepayers $29 million over the life of the loan, or $900,000 yearly, and reduced debt payments,” he said. “We will continue to finalize an agreement with the California State Revolving Fund to secure a $5 million grant and another low-interest loan to complete financing of this project.”

The water reclamation facility will include a new 1-million gallon per day advanced treatment facility, two new lift stations, an approximately 3.5-mile pipeline alignment, and wells to inject the purified water into the groundwater aquifer, which can be reused through the city’s existing infrastructure. ∆
—Karen Garcia

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