Citizens for Affordable Living, a local group formed by residents in Morro Bay, handed in 1,114 signatures from the community Thursday afternoon in hopes of having more say on the location of the new sewage plant.
The signatures were gathered for the referendum of Ordinance 623 which deals with the rezoning of the Wastewater Treatment plant.
Under the current proposed plan, the plant would be located at the corner of South Bay Boulevard and Highway 1.
Scott Collins, the City Manager for Morro Bay, says the city has been working on this plan since 2003 and any change to it would cost the community millions of dollars.
“We looked at 17 different sites in Morro Bay or just outside the city, hundreds of meetings, hundreds of hours of meetings and public testimony. Concerns were raised about moving it away from the ocean because of sea level rise, concerns about locating it next to neighborhoods, concerns about costs. All those things were factored in," Collins said.
748 votes, which are equivalent to 10% of the registered voters of Morro Bay, are needed to get the repeal on the ballot.
1,107 of the 1,114 signatures turned in Thursday evening passed the first verification test and the group says they expect to have an official answer on which ballot they qualify for within the next couple of weeks.
Barry Branin of Citizens for Affordable Living says the group is mainly worried about the possible leakage of contamination going into the estuary near the proposed location.
“If the pipelines through that plant or the plant itself should ever leak over its life and sewer plants are there for 50 years, the contamination to the estuary is just irreparable," Branin said.
According to Collins, Morro Bay's current sewage plant does not comply with state requirements, which will cause the city to be be fined $50,000 per month by the water quality control board if the plant is not up and running by 2023.
The project is estimated to cost about $126 million.