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Cayucos Sanitary District History

(as of 2020)


The Cayucos Sanitary District was formed on March 2, 1942 for the purpose of constructing and operating a sewer collection system and a treatment plant. The District is an independent, special district established pursuant to the Sanitary District Act of 1923 (Health & Safety Code §6400, et seq).

Sanitary districts are empowered to acquire, maintain and operate sewer, drainage and/or refuse collection facilities. They may incur bond indebtedness, enter into contracts, borrow money and charge service rates. Cayucos Sanitary District provides wastewater service to the community of Cayucos which entails collecting wastewater within the community and conveying it through a main line to the Wastewater Treatment plant located on Toro Creek Road. The District’s wastewater system encompasses five lift (pump) stations and approximately 23.1 miles of gravity collection sewers.

The District is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of five members who are elected by popular vote for terms of four years. Administration is carried out through a staff of six, including three field personnel and two office personnel, and led by a contracted Engineer/District Manager. As a complement to the staff, the District maintains Legal Counsel.

District Creation

The first official record of any activity is that of a special meeting of the governing board, consisting of D.R. Pereira, A.K. Hardie, L. Molinari, Howard Hilton and Al Brewer on January 4, 1951, with Periera presiding.

On March 17, 1953 voters approved a bond issue of $171,000.00 for construction of mains, trunks, pump stations, etc., and to pay Cayucos’ share of the cost of a treatment plant to be located on Atascadero Road and to be jointly owned by Morro Bay and Cayucos Sanitary Districts.

On October 22, 1953 the District advertised for bids for construction of a collection system designed by Daniel, Mann, Jonson & Mendenhall, and the successful bidder, Coastal Pipeline Contractors, was awarded a contract at a special meeting on December 29, 1953.

By means of a quitclaim deed from the County of San Luis Obispo dated May 18, 1953, the Cayucos Sanitary District became owners of 40% and the Morro Bay Sanitary District 60% of Blocks 28A and 28B and 28C on Atascadero Beach Road as a site for a sewage treatment plant.

A joint construction and operating agreement was executed on June 16, 1953, authorizing Morro Bay Sanitary District to act as agent for both Districts in the construction and operation on the treatment plant, outfall and the common trunk line which extends from a point just north of Yerba Buena Avenue south to Atascadero Road, then west to the plant. In 1954 the District constructed the sewer system and treatment plant under a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) with the Morro Sanitary District (now the City of Morro Bay). That JPA was subsequently amended in 1969 and 1973.

In 1982 the District and City of Morro Bay renegotiated the Joint Powers Agreement governing their jointly owned wastewater treatment plant facility and agreed to reconstruct and expand the wastewater treatment
plant at an estimated cost of $13,000,000. Additionally, the ownership percentage was reconfigured to provide Cayucos Sanitary District with 35% ownership and the City of Morro Bay 65%, however, the District retained 40% ownership in all jointly owned real property.

Morro Bay-Cayucos Sanitary District Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Project:

In 2005, the Morro Bay City Council and Cayucos Sanitary District (MBCSD) Board adopted an eight (8) year full secondary compliance schedule for upgrading the treatment process at their jointly-owned wastewater treatment plant to comply with full secondary treatment standards by no later than March 31, 2014. Carollo Engineers completed the Facility Master Plan for the WWTP Upgrade in final draft form.

On May 28, 2008, a contract was let for environmental review to Environmental Science Associates. A flood analysis was performed by Wallace Group Engineers as a component of the environmental review. As a result of the flood analysis it was determined that the flood mitigation costs to complete the upgrade of the current WWTP were prohibitive and the upgrade would need to take place adjacent to the existing plant. December 4, 2008, the City and District were granted a final 5 year 301(h) modified NPDES Permit from the State Water Resources Control Board for continued discharge from the WWTP to the ocean outfall. This permit was to cover the majority, if not all, of the WWTP Project when full secondary treatment standards were achieved.

On January 11, 2011, the Morro Bay City Council conditionally approved a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) for MBCSD's request to upgrade the existing WWTP and certified the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed project. The City's approval of the CDP was appealed to the California Coastal Commission (CCC). As a result of the appeal, the CCC asserted jurisdiction over the project's CDP. Per CCC staff direction, MBCSD conducted an additional WWTP Alternatives Analysis to evaluate whether there is a more appropriate site to locate the WWTP.

In January 2013, the CCC voted to deny the CDP for a proposed upgrade at the existing MBCSD WWTP. The CCC recommended that a new facility should be located outside the coastal zone and provide a sizable reclaimed water component.

Cayucos Sustainable Wastewater Project

In February 2015, the City of Morro Bay presented the District with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) detailing the payment and governance structure of a new Wastewater Treatment Facility at the City of Morro Bay chosen facility site Rancho Colina. At a JPA meeting, the Cayucos Sanitary District staff and Board presented a revised MOU to the City of Morro Bay based on the principals of the existing JPA’s cooperative coownership and governance structure. The District was informed by the City of Morro Bay that the MOU terms were non-negotiable.

Presented with a non-negotiable MOU, the District held a Town Hall meeting on April 23, 2015 to discuss options with the community. There was overwhelming support for the CSD to pursue options for the creation of a community treatment facility with the ability to produce reclaimed wastewater in order to help provide a sustainable water supply for the community’s future.

On April 30, 2015 the CSD Board unanimously passed resolution 2015-1, “A RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE CAYUCOS SANITARY DISTRICT DECLARING ITS INTENTION TO
INDEPENDENTLY PURSUE ALTERNATIVES FOR WASTEWATER TREATMENT AND WATER RECLAMATION” ceasing all participation with City of Morro Bay in respect to their new wastewater treatment facility. In June 2015, the CSD initiated contracts for beneficial use analysis, side constraints and wastewater characterization studies. These studies were presented to the public at a Town Hall meeting in January 2016.

On April 20, 2017, the Board held a Proposition 218 hearing that put in motion the five-year rate increase to establish the monthly sewer charges. A formal count of 41 protest letters were received, far below the more than 1,200 protests necessary for the proposition to fail. The proposition established a 5-year rate increase effective each July 1, beginning in 2017. Also, during the April 20, 2017 meeting, by unanimous roll call vote, the Board approved Resolution 2017-3 certifying the CSWP FEIR (Final Environmental Impact Report).

In August 2018, CSD broke ground on our new $25M sewer treatment plant at 800 Toro Creek Road which includes a Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) treatment facility and infrastructure to convey plant discharge to the outfall, as well as reconfiguration of Lift Station 5. Reclaimed water will be available for onsite and local agricultural uses. Estimated completion date is December 2020.