Water Problems in Morro Bay

Morro Bay gets water from wells in Morro Creek as a backup to our State Water allotment, which is the primary source of drinkable water. The City’s share of State Water varies according to snowfall, so one of the City’s selling points for the WRF was that the town would be able to get 80% of its water from the WRF (sewer plant).

Currently, the City has permission from the State to extract 581 Acre Feet per Year (AFY) from the Morro Basin. Reports show that 25% of that amount is lost in recovery/cleaning, so the maximum the City can realize is 436AFY. Under current water needs (1100AFY) that is only 40% of what is needed. The City hopes to increase the extracted amount of water by injecting cleaned water from the WRF into the Morro Basin at the Power Plant site, a brownfield. A brownfield is defined by the EPA as property with the “potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” The water would then be withdrawn and sent through the WRF again.

The City does not have a permit to extract more than 436AFY. It’s questionable whether the State will permit extracting water from a brownfield for drinking. The latest City comment is that pumping will only happen during State Water shutdown in November, high demand in the summer, and to prevent salt water intrusion.

Mayor Headding continues to insist that the City will realize 80% of our water from the WRF. How?

Barry Branin
Morro Bay

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