Millions of federal dollars have flowed into SLO County recently from spending earmarks and the economic stimulus package. But Los Osos missed out on one that could have helped it fund a sewer.
The Los Osos project qualified for up to $35 million that would have been paid through the Army Corps of Engineers. This year, however, the project was “unable to obtain,” that money, John Diodati of county Public Works said.
Los Osos was just one of many projects vying for federal funds, but as a brand-new project, the sewer stood little chance in a competitive field where other projects have already been vetted. Building a new sewer for about 3,000 homes in the small bayside town is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars and residents potentially face $250 per month in assessments.
According to Diodati and Emily Kryder, a spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, competition for federal grants is already tight, but being new in the game makes the competition much more difficult. Diodati and Kryder said there will be another funding opportunity in 2010.
That’s not to say the funding pool for a Los Osos sewer has completely dried up. Diodati said the project is still eligible for money through the State Revolving Fund loan program. There is also another opportunity through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but it will require a special waiver because Los Osos exceeds a 10,000-person population limit for infrastructure projects the department will fund.
Los Osos missed out this year, but other projects throughout the county did receive money through the omnibus spending bill.
•$2.5 million for K-12 marine and coastal environment education programs.
•$1.5 million for Morro Bay dredging.
•$693,000 for Cal Poly agricultural and environmental research.
•$330,000 to upgrade the SLO County Public Health laboratory.
•$200,000 to upgrade the Pismo Beach Police Department’s radio system.