Council candidate Ms. Betty Winholtz recently wrote in Morro Bay Life about the Water Reclamation Facility, “There are options.  For example, it’s less expensive to stay at the current site where the Water Board’s standard will be met when Cayucos goes offline.  The City receives no fines.  Coastal Commission has no jurisdiction if it’s not new.  Sewer and water rates would have to be reduced.”
I asked our Plant Manager about Ms. Winholtz’ claim and received this answer –

  1. The water plant does not meet current standards and cannot meet current standards without an upgrade, regardless of the amount of effluent that flows into it. 
    2. The plant was built in 1953 and was designed to meet 120/70 BOD/TSS requirement.  Current requirement is 30/30. (BOD is organic food left in the water and TSS is total solids left in the water.)
    3. The plant currently operates under a Time Schedule Order (TSO) issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Board and that acts as a temporary permit waiver with an expiration date of February 28, 2023.
    4. In early 2000 the City hired a professional engineering firm to complete an evaluation of the current facility.  The evaluation determined that, to meet the 30/30 requirement, upgraded technology is needed.
    5. In 2013, a new plant design was completed at the existing location based on the 2000 engineer’s evaluation.  The Coastal Commission unanimously rejected the City’s application to build a project at that location and refused to issue a CDP.
    Bottom line is that the current plant will never meet today’s discharge requirements without extensive upgrades and the Coastal Commission denied a permit in 2013 to make those upgrades.
    At that public hearing on January 10, 2013, when the California Coastal Commission considered the City’s application to build a new plant at the existing site, Ms. Winholtz, speaking for herself and others, exclaimed, “We ask for your denial.”
    I urge Morro Bay voters to look for the truth behind every claim made by candidates for public office.  Truth is the lifeblood of Democracy. 
    Robert “Red” Davis
    Morro Bay
    Editor’s note: Mr. Davis is an incumbent Morro Bay City Councilman running for reelection.