Local residents will be able to continue to drop off household hazardous wastes at the Morro Bay-Cayucos Sewer Treatment Plant on Atascadero Road for another year, and the City, County and Cayucos will work on a new long-term arrangement.
The City Council last week voted to extend an agreement with the countywide, “Integrated Waste Management Authority” (IWMA) to allow the agency to use part of the sewer plant property for its portable collection station that accepts household chemicals like old paint, used motor oil, pesticides, herbicides and more.
The initial 10-year agreement went into effect in April 2000 and was extended to April 2020 when that first term ran out, according to a staff report. The agreement is between the IWMA and Cayucos Sanitary District and the City, as the CSD and City co-own the plant property.
That situation will eventually have to be dealt with by the two agencies, as the date for the old plant’s planned obsolescence grows nearer every day. Cayucos’ new treatment plant is nearly finished and the CSD is expected to disconnect from the old plant sometime this year.
The City must shut the old plant down in 2024 by order of the Regional Water Quality Control Board. It’s plant and conveyance system is about a year behind Cayucos.
What becomes of the plant property with the prime location near the beach will be an interesting future issue and the epilog for the nearly two-decades-old sewer plant saga.
The Council’s April 26 action extended the operating agreement through Aug. 5, 2022.
The Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) turn-in facility is at 170 Atascadero Rd., and is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dropping off items is free but you may have to wait in a line of vehicles to get in.
“At the HHW collection facility the IWMA provides to the public a modular storage unit and a roll-off box used for providing waste collection and proper disposal of household hazardous waste that cannot be safely and properly disposed of in the trash or in the gutter,” according to the City.
The IWMA is responsible for obtaining necessary permits, complying with federal, state and local laws, and handles proper “storage, handling, transportation and disposal of the HHW collected at the site complies with applicable federal, state, and local statutes,” the City report said.
The 1-year extension is meant to give the City, CSD and IWMA time to figure out what will be done in the future for what all agree is a necessary public service but will have to find a new home when the old plant shuts down.
“That should be sufficient time for the City, CSD and IWMA to discuss HHW options moving forward,” the City report said, “as the City will be transitioning Utility staff to the new Water Reclamation Facility in late 2022 and the City and CSD discuss the future of 170 Atascadero.”
There is no argument that an HHW facility to collect chemicals and pollutants for safe disposal isn’t vital to help keep them from being dumped somewhere and spoiling the environment.
But storing such materials at home can be dangerous too, as some of them are poisonous, caustic and/or flammable. The HHW accepts up to 15 gallons or 125 pounds of waste materials at one time. It is free and open to the public.