STORM AND WASTEWATER
Several Years ago residents of the neighboring town of Los Osos battled the
requirement of building a sewer plant that was tearing the people apart. People
fought against it, but being mandated, was ultimately completed at huge cost to
Morro Bay is now facing similar controversy. The difference between Morro Bay
and Los Osos is simple. Our WWTP is not required to move. Period. The only
mandate is to clean or finish the discharge water. It does not require the plant to
be relocated uphill 2 miles away.
No actual budget has ever been established. Slogans for this new location
include “Yes to Clean Water”. What they have failed to explain, is this comes
at the unsustainable cost to the citizens in perpetuity, and with the other vital
city infrastructure in shambles.
The city states relocating the existing plant is required, and it would seem there
is no other choice. Right? Not true. The current plan advertised as “required” and moving forward with, is in fact, not required. There are smarter solutions at a fractional cost, we demonstrate below.
The cost to residents is unsustainable debt. Many will not be able to afford what will become mandatory. In addition, all business and tourism will be drastically altered by this unnecessary action. When these costs are pushed onto local business and tourist industry, it will make our town less attractive for both business and tourism.
History, Facts, Impacts and the Solution
These initial and long term costs will be financed by a town of about 6-7 thousand full time residents, with many on fixed incomes.
Over ten years ago, the city contracted a plan (9/4/2007 Carollo DFMPR) for a NEW WWTP to replace the existing WWTP with a budget of $28 million. This complete replacement wasn’t necessary or required, but simply a decision made by the City.
The Carrollo plan was submitted and summarily rejected by California Coastal Commission (CCC). The CCC rejected this plan based on the fact, this plan was full replacement or “NEW development”. The 11/10/10, CCC letter (Morro Bay Public Services Addressing DEIR Comments) refers to WWTP as a NEW development. CCC stated the WWTP plan shows a total replacement, therefore CCC must review this plan as they would any new coastal development, ultimately rejecting the 9/4/2007 Carollo plan. The existing functioning WWTP is not required to be reviewed by the California Coastal Commission.
Based on this rejection, and while not required, the City continued misstepping by pursuing to build a NEW WWTP.
This new plan locates the plant 2 miles away. It adds cost and impact for rezoning, land purchase, entitlement, new WWTP facilities, offices, easement planning, roads, underground piping infrastructure, pump stations, power upgrades, old plant decommissioning, etc. The environmental impact, carbon footprint and cost for increased long-term energy use (pumping sewage 2 miles uphill) are enormous and the city cannot explain why or how much this will cost.
City has made other arguments to justify relocation such as coastal flooding and tsunami. But both conditions do not require relocation of an existing functioning WWTP. Any event or global change that destroys or alters the coastline falls under the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) umbrella. These climate or catastrophe arguments are not a basis for arbitrarily moving or spending taxpayer monies, and are insured by the United States Government.
City also argues better coastal uses for current plant location, while not mentioning any new development is subject to the same CCC rejection causes they have already experienced for the past 10 years. This is a false argument.
Tertiary (added cleaning) treatment of discharge water from existing WWTP by transporting treated water inland for final stage. Cleaning can be done either mechanically or biologically though a wetland process. This would immediately save well over $100 million dollars compared to current proposal and includes the phased upgrade to the existing WWTP.
Mechanical Finishing – There are several mechanical finishing systems that can be put in place for a fraction of the overall costs. A simple plan can be put into place for providing this final water stage without moving or replacing the WWTP.
Constructed Wetland (CW) Treatment – The CW is a simple, natural
method for finishing water at fractional cost with the lowest long-term
maintenance cost, and impact to land. With primary treatment already
completed, CW design becomes the simple and sustainable solution
to “Clean Water”. CW creates better aesthetics and less environmental
impact while decreasing overall treatment cost. CW design can include
any other treatment, including denitrification, etc.
The Morro Bay WWTP location is ideally located at the base of the
Morro Creek, intuitively allowing the water feed to a constructed
wetland in the upper valley. This upper valley and basin topography
has several ideal locations for a constructed wetland system.
We challenge the City and the Citizens to take a serious look at the real conditions for cost and impact as well as the amazing options and opportunities that are currently available.
Morro Bay (Future) Constructed Wetland Community Center
Ecostorm System (ESS). The ESS is a storm water catchment system designed to catch and filter storm and water runoff. it also provides a means for water re infiltration into the ground water table. The ESS box is expandable (end to end) for unlimited capacity and can be installed inexpensively adjacent existing storm water alignments. The water is filtered, then routed back into the existing storm water system. ESS is shown in this illustration as a uniquely designed open concrete precast concrete box supporting a traffic grate and containing removable water filter racks.
Design uses for the ESS can be expanded into other areas such as for SWWP primary catchment, private and municipal stormwater management design and more.
Ecostorm System (ESS) Patent Pending