Work Starts on WRF Pipelines

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

February 12, 2021

Work has begun on the second phase of the Morro Bay Water Recycling Facility or WRF project and residents will soon start to see some dirt being dug up and moved around for the pipelines.
“The WRF Program is the largest-ever City infrastructure program,” City Manager Scott Collins said in a news release, “and will meet state water and wastewater regulations, protect the environment and contribute a safe and reliable water source for Morro Bay’s residents and businesses.”
That safe reliable water source will be a stand-by one for the time being, as the City plans to only run the recycled water system a few days a month and in emergencies.
The WRF, which is building a treatment plant on a hillside above the end of South Bay Boulevard at Hwy 1, will need an extensive conveyance system to send the water from the current plant site on Atascadero Road to the new treatment plant. That’s around 3 miles and a few hundred feet gain in elevation.
“The WRF Pipelines include two wastewater pipelines, one [return] pipeline for the water treatment process discharge [into the ocean], and one purified water pipeline, the City said. All the pipelines will be in the same trench though segregated from each other. The purified water line will diverge off at Main Street and run into the rear of the pow3er plant property to an injection well field, which is also part of this Phase of the project.
But a lawsuit over the site for those injection wells and over permanent and construction easements the city needs through the power plant property remains unresolved.
The City sued Vistra, the owners of the power plant, for eminent domain to force the easements, offering $200,000 for them.
A judge will decide if that’s enough money. Both City officials and Vistra spokes people have declined comment on the lawsuit, with Collins only saying in a recent interview that it’s ongoing.
Collins has said the City’s project can move forward without the lawsuit being completed, however. With eminent domain the only real issue is how much the City should pay for the easements.
The pipeline route will disrupt traffic on Atascadero Road, Main Street, Quintana Road — including at the Roundabout — and South Bay Boulevard during construction.
“The construction,” Collins said, “will include trenching, tunneling, pipe installation, soil backfilling and off-hauling, and road restoration, as well as construction of support infrastructure including two new lift stations.”
Crews will begin work on Quintana Road first, from La Loma Street to South Bay Boulevard, and from Main Street going south on Quintana, which is the segment expected to have the biggest impact on Quintana Road businesses.
Shoppers should approach Quintana’s two shopping centers via Kennedy Way, to avoid the construction zone.
Construction is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays, according to the City. “Weekend or night work may be scheduled, as needed, but neighboring properties will be informed in advance of schedule changes.”
The construction schedule calls for the majority of the work on Phase 2 to be completed by next December (2021).
The schedule calls for the majority of construction activities to be completed by December 2021.
The contract for the pipeline portion went to Anvil Builders, Inc., based in San Francisco, for $31.49 million, including the project’s third phase, the injection wells, part of the City’s “indirect potable reuse” or IPR system.
“We are thrilled to be breaking ground on the WRF Pipelines and are ready to work with the community and businesses throughout construction,” said Collins. “Pipeline construction is expected to be complete at the end of 2021, and we look forward to the long-term benefits of making investments in our infrastructure.”
The pipeline work will be in the public right of way and the company is supposed to limit impacts to traffic flow.
“Lane closures and, when needed, detours will be in place for traffic circulation and access,” Collins said. “For the safety of the community and construction crews, traffic control mechanisms such as signage, barricades and flag people, will be in place. The City is committed to maintaining business, residential and emergency vehicle access to properties, and minimizing inconveniences throughout construction.”
The City promises to keep local businesses informed on the progress of the project as it affects them. The Chamber of Commerce has been working with the City and Quintana Road businesses to prepare for the project.
“Properties along the construction area will receive printed notices before work begins near their address, and construction notices will be regularly posted on Email to: or call 877-MORROBAYH2O with questions about the City’s WRF Project. The City promises to respond within one day.
And in case you were worried, the City said the construction crews would “adhere to all health and safety protocols in place for personal protective equipment and physical distancing,” as the City’s continued response to the coronavirus pandemic requires.

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