San Luis Obispo

Morro Bay/Cayucos Wastewater Treatment Plant Siting

Active | January 01 2005

Clean Water

Goal: to secure a wastewater treatment project (or projects) that will serve both communities that meets Clean Water Act standards (ending the 301(h) waiver), is properly located outside of coastal hazard areas, maximizes wastewater reclamation, and ideally eliminates the need for an ocean outfall altogether.

The Morro Bay/Cayucos Wastewater Treatment Plant currently operates under a 301(h) waiver from the Clean Water Act, which allows the plant to discharge partially treated sewage to the ocean. With push from the San Luis Obispo Chapter and other concerned organizations and individuals, the Morro Bay City Council and Cayucos Sanitary District Board of Directors voted unanimously in 2007 to upgrade the plant to tertiary treatment with the intent to beneficially reuse the treated wastewater.

Unfortunately, the campaign took some steps backwards when the parties tried to get permits for a new plant at a site right on the coast where it would have been subject to coastal hazards and located in the 100-year flood zone. Additionally, the plans did not include upgrade to Title 22 tertiary standards or infrastructure to allow meaningful reuse of the treated water. The SLO Chapter and others have appealed the local approval of the project to the California Coastal Commission and the Commission denied the project in January 2013.

The campaign continues as Morro Bay and Cayucos move forward to find the right site and advance a project that will recycle wastewater.

Clean Water

Everyone should have access to clean water to surf, swim and play in. The Surfrider Foundation is taking a multi-tiered approach to tackle ocean pollution problems. We are testing the waters for bacteria and toxins, raising public awareness and finding real solutions to ocean pollution; solutions that restore healthy watersheds, protect local water supplies and keep pollution from reaching the ocean.

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Looking for more information?

Staff Contact Chapter Contact

Sarah Damron - sdamron at

Chapter Contact: Brad Snook - chair at