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In An Emergency:

Water Emergencies: Call MWSD at (650) 728-3545
Sewer Emergencies: Call SAM at (650) 726-0124
Dial 911 for life-threatening and safety


Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Sanitary District do?

The Montara Water & Sanitary District, formed in 1958 as a public agency, is responsible for maintaining approximately twenty-five miles of sewer line and thirteen pump stations. The sewage is pumped through a large intertie pipeline under Highway 1 to the sewage treatment plant located in Half Moon Bay.

In addition, the District manages the solid waste franchise with Seacoast Disposal of Pacifica which collects all trash and disposes of it properly in the landfill located near Half Moon Bay, as well as recycles the material placed in the recycling bins by each household.

In 1992, the District, through special State legislation, was granted the powers of a county water district. This was done in an effort to improve the water supply and service provided by the private water company serving the area then known as Citizens Utilities Company of California. August 1, 2003, the district acquired and began operating the water system.

Is the District looking for new water?

Yes. We are drilling test wells, and hope to produce water from at least a few of them. They will also be used to monitor groundwater as part of a groundwater monitoring system.

How are the Sewer Service Charges calculated?

This Charge is calculated once a year based on the water flow of each user. For residences we obtain water usage during the "wet weather" months which are generally November through March. These months are used because during that time homeowners typically use less water for outside irrigation. This is the fairest and most cost effective way to determine relative use of the sewer treatment plant. The District then combines this information with the County's latest assessment roll to produce a computerized list of each parcel. Once the Board of Directors approves the rate and charges they are sent to the County Tax Collector for inclusion in the property tax bill. The calculation of the Charge for most businesses is more involved since the computer program uses the water use data for the entire year and multiplies it by a "strength factor". This factor is used because some commercial establishments like restaurants produce sewage which requires more treatment than that normally produced by households.

How can I reduce my Sewer Service Charge?

Homeowners may reduce their water usage during the wet weather months of November through March prior to the fiscal year of the tax bills. For example, the property tax bills generally use the water use data from the period of November and December of the previous year and January through March of the current year. If you have noticed a significant increase in your water use you should check for leaking faucets, toilets, pipes or connections.

Who is on the Board of Directors?

There are five Board members, all of whom are elected at large, and must reside in the Montara or Moss Beach area. The current Board is as follows:

Who is on the Board of Directors?
Dwight Wilson — PresidentTerm 2013-2018
Scott Boyd — PresidentTerm 2011-2016
Kathryn Slater-Carter — SecretaryTerm 2011-2016
Bill Huber — TreasurerTerm 2013-2018
Jim Harvey — DirectorTerm 2013-2018

All Board members may be reached by sending an email to mwsd@coastside.net.

Or writing the District office at: Montara Water and Sanitary District, P.O. Box 370131, Montara, CA 94037. Telephone: (650)728-3545; FAX (650)728-8556.

The Board of Directors manages the affairs of the District. Through their bi-monthly meetings they set policy, enact appropriate resolutions or ordinances, approve all payments to vendors, review and approve the budget, set Sewer Service Charge rates, establish connection charges, hire staff, approve contracts and other necessary actions needed to carry out the business of the District. All formal actions must be taken in public and listed on an agenda which is published in advance of the meeting.

Is there a waiting list to get a sewer connection?

There is currently no waiting list. The Board of Directors authorized the firm of Bartle Wells of San Francisco to conduct a sewer connection rate study. This company specializes in developing rates for various sewer and water agencies. The study was completed in 1997 after a full public hearing. The purpose of a connection fee is to fairly charge new users the cost of the sewer plant expansion. A portion of the sewer plant expansion would have been required even if there was no increase in capacity because the enforcement agency, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, required certain improvements be made. Part of the objective of the rate study is to fairly allocate the remedial costs to current users and the parts of the plant expansion required to provide additional capacity to the new users. At the time the proposed connection rates are made public, the Board will also determine how connections will be allocated.

The District received 110,000 gallons of capacity shortly after the sewer plant expansion completion in December, 1998. This is equivalent to about 495 connections of which, by court order, 218 were allocated to a proposed low income housing project near Etheldore and Highway 1 (Moss Beach Highlands). The remaining 279 connections have been available for sale to property owners. In addition, the District may purchase additional sewer capacity up to its maximum allocation of 400,000 gallons per day in 20,000 gallon increments.


The planning for the expansion of the existing sewer treatment plant began in the mid-1980's by the three member agencies of the Sewer Authority Mid-Coastside (SAM) which are the City of Half Moon Bay, Granada Sanitary District and Montara Sanitary District. The final plans and specifications for this expansion were completed in 1996 and went to public bid in that year. The Notice to Proceed was issued to the General Contractor, Gateway Pacific Contractors, in August, 1996 for a contract amount of $16,659,000. The completion date was in early 1999, and MSD was the first member agency to issue permits. This expansion doubled the capacity of the current wastewater treatment plant, giving it a total capacity of about 4.0 MGD (millions of gallons per day). The plant is a secondary treatment plant. The SAM web site is at http://samcleanswater.org.