Morro Bay’s new sewer system has wrangled another large grant, this time from the State of California via the County.
The County Flood Control & Water Conservation District’s Water Advisory Committee on Oct. 5, approved awarding the City’s Water Reclamation Facility Project (WRF) a $1.2 million grant that was expected to be finalized and awarded at the Tuesday, Nov. 1 Board of Supervisors Meeting. County Supervisors act as the governing board for the countywide Flood Control District. It will also be submitted to the Department of Water Resources in early 2023 for final approval, according to the release.
If all goes well, the City will bank the money until it’s ready to spend it on an injection well to complete the recycling portion of the $160 million WRF Project.
The money is coming out of the California Department of Resources’ “Regional Water Management Implementation Grant” program that the City said, “is targeted toward projects that help respond to climate change and contribute to regional self-reliance,” according to a news release from the City.
The City Manager was grateful for the grant. “It is gratifying,” City Manager Scott Collins said, “to receive this $1.2 million grant award recommendation as we complete construction of key components of the City’s largest-ever infrastructure project.
“Receiving this additional grant funding for the WRF Program was a team effort by the Mayor, City Council, City staff, project team and will help reduce costs to local rate payers for this critical project to develop a local, drought resilient water source for our community.”
Morro Bay’s project, which will be able to recycle highly treated effluent by injecting it into the Morro Creek groundwater basin where it can be used as a block on seawater intrusion; or pumped out again at existing water wells, treated and added to the drinking water supply, scored high in the grant process.
“The City’s project,” the news release said, “received the highest score and is recommended for the largest grant award because it demonstrated an ability to address the most critical needs of the IRWM Region, leverage non-state funds, employ new and innovative technologies/practices, provide multiple benefits, encourage regional approaches, and improve drought preparedness.”
The grant will also allow the City to “provide water to other local water utilities to improve regional water supply reliability and resilience.”
The $1.2 million will be used to help fund the injection well component of the WRF Program, which includes purified recycled water pipelines and injection wells to increase recharge to the Morro Basin to reduce nitrate contamination, prevent seawater intrusion and increase the City’s ability to “provide water to other local water utilities to improve regional water supply reliability and resilience.”
The WRF Project is replacing the old sewer treatment plant on Atascadero Road with a new, tertiary treated, 1-million gallon a day treatment plant with advanced micro-filtering (via reverse osmosis) of wastewater for recycling. Unusable wastewater will still be discharged into Estero Bay.
The massive project involved laying some 3.5 miles of conveyance piping from the Atascadero Road plant to the new plant located above the terminus of South Bay Boulevard. Two new lift stations have been installed along with a bypass collection line running from the Front Street parking lot on the Embarcadero, through the power plant to a new lift station located next door to Lemos Ranch Pet Supply Store. Another large lift station was built at the Atascadero Road plant. Construction has been ongoing since Spring 2020 and the project is expected to be fully completed sometime in early 2023.
The City said the new plat will, “meet State regulations, protect the environment and produce advanced purified water. Through implementation of the WRF Program, the City is the first in the State to relocate its wastewater treatment facility away from coastal hazards and create a new, sustainable, drought-resistant water supply.”