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Morro Bay ponders wastewater treatment plant options 

Now that the Morro Bay power plant is on its way out, the city has a possible use for its location: a spot for the long-debated wastewater treatment plant—or the water reclamation facility, depending on which term you prefer.

But that’s only one of seven options recently laid out in a report the City Council reviewed at its 
Nov. 12 meeting.

The 344-page report selected the seven best options for a wastewater treatment plant the city is choosing to relocate instead of upgrading its current site. The decision to make a move is due to state regulators’ indication that they wouldn’t issue permits for such improvements at the current facility due to its location—it sits in a 100-year flood zone—and other concerns.

Based on public surveys and a Nov. 5 workshop, the power plant site ranked as the most popular potential wastewater treatment site so far. The 12 acres on the south end of the Dynegy property rang in as the least expensive—at approximately $90 million—and were also popular due to being a vacant industrial site not visible from the shore or Highway 1. Despite its proximity to the water, the location isn’t in a flood zone, explained Project Manager John Rickenbach. The site is 40 to 80 feet above sea level; a tsunami would only reach about 25 feet high, he said. One problem with the location, though, may be the odor and proximity to businesses and residences.

Some 663 acres east of the city in the Morro Valley—also known as the Righetti site—marked the second most popular alternative, which would cost an estimated $100 million.

A 738-acre location near the intersection of Highway 1 and South Bay Boulevard, with a cost of $110 million, ranked third, followed by a 36-acre property east of Highway 1 overlooking the Morro Valley, a site that could impact residential traffic.

Three other options ranged in price from $110 million to $160 million.

At the Nov. 12 City Council meeting, roughly 15 residents voiced their favorites, though there was no standout among the field of alternatives.

Former planning commissioner John Diodati applauded the council majority for opting to move forward with relocating the plant rather than battling state agencies such as the California Coastal Commission, and urged the council to continue working with the agencies so there’d be no surprises when a project does eventually come before them.

Based on feedback from the public and council, the city’s consultant will present a second draft report on Dec. 10. The council is then expected to select one or two sites for further evaluation, but is urging the public to provide feedback before they do so.

The report on alternative locations can be viewed at

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