Pismo Beach and Grover Beach responded to the city of Arroyo Grande's demands for the Central Coast Blue water project on May 24—proposing a path forward for the frayed regional partnership.
- Rendering Courtesy Of CapSLO
- ROCKY PARTNERSHIP Water Systems Consulting Engineer Dan Heimel leads a 2019 tour of a water recycling facility. The Central Coast Blue project would inject treated wastewater into the Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin.
The cities' letters, which are identical, called the $85 million wastewater treatment project "imperative" for the region, and said that "the project is best if all three South County cities continue to participate."
"We want to be very clear that our city remains committed," their letters read.
Last month, Arroyo Grande threatened to withdraw from Central Coast Blue on June 1 unless Pismo and Grover agreed to renegotiate a shared operating agreement for the project.
The Arroyo Grande City Council raised issues with the project's governance structure—calling it unequal—and clashed with Pismo and Grover over their lack of commitment to a local workforce hire agreement.
In the May 24 response letters, Pismo and Grover suggested that the three cities hold an in-person meeting in the near future, with all three city councils and the public present, "to discuss the project and next steps."
"We are optimistic such a meeting could be held by August 2021," the letters read. "During this meeting, it would be essential to discuss project governance and oversight, financing, procurement, timelines, etc."
Pismo and Grover also proposed that the three cities each appoint two council members to engage in ongoing discussions about the project with city staff and advisors.
"We believe the approach for dialogue and deliberation outlined in this letter provides a sufficient response to the issue raised," the letters read.
The Arroyo Grande City Council is set to meet in June to discuss the cities' responses and whether they satisfy their demands, according to City Manager Whitney McDonald. Those demands were that the cities have equal decision-making power on the project and that a project management committee be formed subject to the Brown Act.
While Pismo and Grover opened the door to those renegotiations, they also underscored the need to get Central Coast Blue off the ground. The project—pitched as a shared solution to stabilizing the Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin—has a $6.1 million federal grant application pending.
"As our county and most of our state is now in a severe drought, it is imperative to continue to move Central Coast Blue forward without delay," the letters stated. Δ