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Better news for Morro Bay water allocation 

Though an updated estimate on state water deliveries is good news for Morro Bay, the city is still working on more options to reduce its heavy dependency on state water.

On Dec. 1, the California Department of Water Resources announced that it would be making deliveries in 2015 at 10 percent of normal allocations. While 10 percent delivery is still low, it’s far from the 0-percent allocation announced earlier in the year, which bumped slightly to 5 percent in April.

Morro Bay relies almost exclusively on state water and is now primarily utilizing its reserves held in the San Luis Reservoir. The city’s next best water option is to utilize its desalination plant—which is costly to run—and city officials are still working toward obtaining the necessary permits to operate the plant without penalties from the state.

“It’s better news than 0 percent,” Public Services Director/City Engineer Rob Livick told New Times. “But it’s still concerning, because Morro Bay—maybe in theory—has a diverse water supply; from a practical matter, we’re highly reliant on state water.”

In the long-term, city officials hope to alleviate the state-water dependence with a new wastewater treatment plant and water reclamation facility. On Dec. 9, the Morro Bay City Council voted unanimously to select the Rancho Colina site, located northeast of the city along Highway 41, as the preferred location to be studied as the city moves forward with construction plans. According to a city staff report, the Rancho Colina site would likely cost less than half—with a total project cost estimated at about  $74.2 million—than the other potential site at the California Men’s Colony.

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