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About the Project

View the latest project fact sheet Here.

“Our Water” is the City of Morro Bay’s program to plan and build water and wastewater infrastructure for a sustainable future for the environment, our economy and the community.

The City of Morro Bay Water Reclamation Facility is part of Our Water and involves replacing the City’s existing wastewater treatment plant with an advanced water purification facility.

The program will…

Meet state regulations

Protect the environment

Contribute a safe and reliable water source for Morro Bay’s homes and businesses

Create a drought buffer

Be capable of providing up to 80 percent of the City’s water needs in the future

The program includes construction of a new one million gallon per day advanced treatment facility on South Bay Boulevard north of Highway 1, two new lift stations, approximately 3.5 miles of pipelines and wells to inject the purified water into the groundwater aquifer, which can be extracted for reuse through the City’s existing infrastructure. The current schedule includes construction beginning in 2020 and project completion by 2023.

Water Reclamation Facility Community Goals

All aspects shall be completed ensuring economic value with a special emphasis on minimizing rate payer and City expense.

Progress, including general project status, milestones, and budget/cost information shall be communicated to our community members regularly.

Tertiary, disinfected wastewater shall be produced in accordance with Title 22 requirements for unrestricted urban irrigation.

  • Design to produce reclaimed wastewater to augment the City’s water supply, by either direct or indirect means, as described in a master water reclamation plan and to maximize funding opportunities
  • Include features in the WRF project that maximize the City’s opportunities to secure funding and maximize efficiencies
  • Design to minimize the impacts from contaminants of emerging concern in the future

Ensure compatibility with neighboring land uses.

Project Background: The Existing Wastewater Treatment Plant is not a Solution

The existing wastewater treatment plant, located at 160 Atascadero Road in Morro Bay, was originally constructed in 1953 and upgraded in 1964, 1982, and 1984. It was designed to treat an average dry weather flow of 2.06 million gallons per day through a primary process (solids removal), and the secondary (biological) treatment system can treat up to a nominal capacity of 1.0 million gallons per day.

The existing wastewater treatment plant is jointly owned and operated between the City of Morro Bay and Cayucos Sanitary District and currently serves a combined population of approximately 14,000 people. The plant has been operated under a National Pollution Discharge Permit, and the Waste Discharge Requirements were updated and adopted by the Regional Water Quality Control Board in 2017. The plant has operated under a modified discharge permit from full secondary treatment requirements since its last upgrade in 1984, to allow for partially treated wastewater to be discharged during wet weather periods when the plant cannot fully treat incoming wastewater flows. However, the updated Waste Discharge Requirements, which became effective in March 2018, no longer include this waiver.

In June 2018, the City received a Time Schedule Order from the Regional Water Quality Control Board which requires full permit compliance by Feb. 28, 2023. If this deadline or other intermediate deadlines stipulated in the Compliance Schedule are not met, the City will face both mandatory and discretionary fines from the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

In addition to the Time Schedule Order, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) denied a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) to upgrade the existing wastewater treatment plant in 2013. The CCC requires the City to construct a new wastewater treatment facility in an inland location away from the coastal zone to avoid coastal hazards including sea-level rise, tsunami and flood inundation.