In last week’s paper, City Council candidate Robert Davis challenged my statement that the City can have a less expensive sewer plant in its current location without trouble from either the Coastal Commission or the Water Board. He used statements from the sewer plant manager as evidence. 

I fail to see conflicts between my statement and the plant manager’s comments.

1. I agree the current sewer plant does not meet standards and will need to be upgraded. I believe an upgrade has to be cheaper than a brand new plant 3 miles away requiring 2 new lift stations and 4 pipelines, increased operational costs, with additional public services moving onto the new site.

2. I did not address BOD or TSS, so I’m not sure how this relates other than identifying the standard the City must reach.

3. I agree the City is operating under a Time Schedule Order. The Order is moot if fulfilled. If the City meets the secondary standard when Cayucos goes offline in December, we’ve beaten the 2023 deadline.

4. Same as #2, I agree upgrading is necessary.

5. The Coastal Commission denied a permit for the specific project proposed in 2013. While environmental reasons played a role, so did the newly-elected leaders’ request for denial. With a Time Order in place, the denial kept the City/Cayucos from Water Board fines. Fines could have happened if the project was continued.

During public comment at the Hearing, I did state, “We ask for your denial.” 

In 2013, the public reasoned that if a new plant could be built in a safer location for only $10-$12 more a month, we were willing to do that. In 2020, the reality is the new site is neither environmentally safer nor only $10-$12 more a month. 

Not only is the estuary at risk, sewer bills have risen from $41.35/mo. to $108/mo. (excluding water bill), not a 25% increase but a 161% increase.

I agree, “Voters should look for truth behind every claim made by candidates for public office.”

Betty Winholtz
Candidate for Morro Bay City Council