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Recycled water project moves forward in the Five Cities

City of Ventura advising residents to boil water before using due to Thomas fire
Posted at 10:29 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 00:31:37-04

We are learning more about a water recycling project in the works in the Five Cities.

Central Coast Blue -- a regional recycled water project -- was the topic of a rare joint city council meeting between Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach Wednesday night.

The water recycling project is moving forward as the Central Coast deals with ongoing drought and an uncertain water supply in the future.

“It’s water that’s currently being used within the community and discharged to the ocean so that’s a drought resilient, local supply,” said Jeff Szytel with Water Systems Consulting.

The Central Coast Blue project would build a 10,000-square-foot facility for wastewater purification at the end of Huber Street in Grover Beach.

“So that wastewater is currently sent to the City of Pismo Beach wastewater treatment plant where it’s treated, but rather than allowing that wastewater to flow out into the ocean where we’re losing that valuable resource, Central Coast Blue will divert that wastewater to a new advanced water purification facility,” said Justin Pickard with Water Systems Consulting.

After going through a three-step treatment process, the purified water will be discharged back into the groundwater at two wells in Grover Beach and two in Oceano.

“What we’re doing today as well as what we have been doing for years is really an outstanding example and model of what it means to be a region and to participate together to solve our regional issues,” said Arroyo Grande City Manager Whitney McDonald.

The first phase of the project would cost an estimated $93 million—a sharp increase from last year’s estimate.

“When we talk about escalating costs and escalating construction costs—I was expecting that but I wasn’t expecting a tripling of costs,” said Arroyo Grande Mayor Caren Ray Russom.

Central Coast Blue has received more than $14 million in funding with the goal of seeking additional federal and state grant money.

Each city will have to pay leftover costs in the form of low-interest loans based on how much they benefit from extra water.

Grover Beach would pay $16.9 million. Arroyo Grande would cover $11.8 million and Pismo Beach would pay $8.3 million.

“Each of our cities is undertaking analysis and verifying that we do have that financing ability to pay for our ongoing costs based on the cost share that we have in place,” said Grover Beach City Manager Matthew Bronson.

Central Coast Blue has the potential to provide 900 acre-feet of additional water per year.

Construction is set to begin late next year and the facility could be running in 2025.