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A look inside Morro Bay's water reclamation facility construction project

Morro Bay WRF Site Aerial Photo - 2020-07-22.jpg
Posted at 7:23 PM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 17:13:14-04

Construction is underway on the City of Morro Bay's largest infrastructure project.

Work started in March on the water reclamation facility. Once complete, it will provide 80% of the community's drinking water needs.

So far, more than 75,000 cubic yards of soil have been moved, a basin and tank are in the works that'll include 600 tons of concrete and 28 tons of rebar, and 23-foot walls are also being constructed.

Located on South Bay Boulevard, it's a $130 million project that was approved by voters back in 2018. Ratepayers started paying for the project in August of 2019.

"Our rates are $191 per month for water and sewer for the average single-family home," said Morro Bay City Manager Scott Collins.

Collins says to date, $88.5 million worth of low-interest state and federal loans and grants are in place for the project.

Some residents protested outside the future site on Monday, voicing concerns over increased rates and the environment.

"Overspending is the rule of the day," said Dan Sedley, Citizens for Affordable Living, Morro Bay, Co-Chair.

"It's a bad idea," said Marla Jo Sadowski, Home Front Environmental Justice Morro Bay. "It's a horrible idea and I'm here today because I'm standing up for the estuary to keep it out of harm's way."

The city says the infrastructure is needed, however, to meet state and federal requirements that the facility is located inland, away from coastal hazards.

"The state issued a time schedule order several years ago that requires us to build a modern facility that can meet water quality control act requirements," Collins said.

The city adds that it'll prepare the area for future droughts, as well, instead of relying on imported water from the Delta.

"This project will provide a much-needed backup and as we proceed forward we may be able to modify the contract with the state and modify that to benefit our ratepayers," Collins explained.

The facility will be able to treat 1,000,000 gallons per day.

"So we can release it into the ocean safely which currently our plant doesn't meet those standards," Collins added.

It'll also recycle water for potable reuse, or treating wastewater for drinking.

"It's a bit of an innovation but it's worth it and it's going to be safe," Collins said.

The entire project is slated to be complete by 2023.

The city says the project has created more than 50 construction-related jobs to date.

The old facility will go offline once this project is complete.