The Advisory Committee on the Fallbrook/Rainbow Detachment convened by San Diego’s Local Agency Formation Commission met Feb. 1, and by the next advisory committee meeting scheduled for April 5, consultant Michael Hanemann will have a recommendation on the supply reliability issue associated with the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District plans to detach from the San Diego County Water Authority and annex into the Eastern Municipal Water District.
Cyclical water shortages are a challenge that Eastern Municipal Water District takes seriously. As California’s sixth-largest retail water agency, they embrace the opportunity to balance water use efficiency with meeting the needs of a diverse and growing customer base. By using a smart utility network from Xylem’s Sensus brand, EMWD can better advance service and sustainability, and help ensure social distancing through remote meter monitoring.
The Eastern Municipal Water District will receive $25 million in federal funds over the next several years to expand its desalination program, increasing fresh water stocks and reducing dependence on water imports, the agency announced Tuesday. The Perris-based EMWD was selected to receive the additional funding under the recently approved federal Water Resources Development Act, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be responsible for distributing the funds.
Bonsall resident Andy Vanderlaan will chair the 2021 meetings of San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission, and he was also reappointed for another four-year term on the LAFCO board.
One 8-0 LAFCO vote Dec. 7 reappointed Vanderlaan as LAFCO’s public member. A separate 8-0 vote elected Vanderlaan as the LAFCO board chair for 2021 while electing County Supervisor Jim Desmond as the vice-chair for the 2021 meetings.
The public member’s term actually expires in April 2021. LAFCO had the option of reappointing Vanderlaan or seeking additional applicants. The reappointment of Vanderlaan was contingent upon his willingness to serve a seventh term. “I’m inclined to do that,” he said.
The Fallbrook Public Utility District Board of Directors unanimously elected Jennifer DeMeo to serve as president, making her the first woman in the district’s history to lead the board. DeMeo was officially seated at the Dec. 7 meeting.
Thank you for your support over the past two years. It’s been an honor to serve as the chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. While some may not realize it, this 36-member Board plays a critical role in sustaining San Diego County’s quality of life and economy.
And I’m pleased to say that this Board engages in the difficult discussions and decisions to make sure our children and grandchildren enjoy the same safe and secure water supplies that we enjoy today. Unfortunately, it’s also true that efforts are underway that would undermine decades of successful planning that has served our county well from Fallbrook to San Ysidro.
This week, the Water Authority filed a formal response to address a proposal by the Fallbrook and Rainbow water districts to detach from the Water Authority and annex into Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County. These proposals would increase costs for water ratepayers in San Diego County, reduce the county’s voting power, and decrease water supply reliability for farms and residents.
Our detailed filing with the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) spells out how the Fallbrook and Rainbow detachment proposals contain significant areas of misleading or incomplete information that must be addressed before LAFCO and all of the interested parties countywide can understand the full scope of impacts that would be created by detachment. The LAFCO process is expected to take at least another year.
As proposed by Fallbrook and Rainbow, the detachments would allow Fallbrook and Rainbow to avoid paying for water supplies and infrastructure that have been developed in collaboration with those agencies and are currently being used by those agencies to meet their customers’ needs. Abandoning those cost obligations would force other ratepayers countywide to cover their portion of the bills already incurred for decades of investments in supply reliability.
Our agency’s analysis shows that detachment, as proposed, would reduce water reliability and increase risk for Rainbow and Fallbrook customers, create environmental impacts that haven’t been studied, and impair the successful long-term planning efforts that have served our county well. And it would give Riverside County water agencies more control over San Diego County’s water future, including water rate and property tax impacts. The Water Authority’s formal response to the Fallbrook/Rainbow reorganization proposals and related documents are at www.sdcwa.org/lafco-reorganization.
It’s critical that LAFCO and all the interested parties across San Diego County take the time to address the full scope of consequences created by these unprecedented proposals so we avoid unintended harm to our region. The Water Authority, its member agencies and regional planning agencies such as SANDAG have worked together for more than 75 years to provide this region with safe and reliable water supplies. Trying to turn back the clock now is a costly, difficult process with numerous impacts to Fallbrook and Rainbow customers and across the region.
As we transition to the new Board leadership in October, I trust that you will give incoming Chair Gary Croucher and Vice Chair Christy Guerin the same support that you’ve given to me over the past two years. And don’t forget that whatever the challenges, San Diego County is stronger together.
View From The Chair represents the viewpoints of Jim Madaffer, Chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors.
Analysis released today shows that proposals by the Fallbrook and Rainbow water districts to leave the San Diego County Water Authority and annex into the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County would increase costs for water ratepayers in San Diego County, reduce the county’s voting power, and decrease water supply reliability for farms and residents.
Numerous financial, environmental and legal issues that affect property owners and water users across San Diego County are analyzed in the Water Authority’s formal response to the reorganization proposals filed today with the San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission, known as LAFCO.
San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission requires a deposit to process applications to LAFCO for jurisdictional changes, and the Fallbrook Public Utility District will be providing an additional deposit to process the application for FPUD to detach from the San Diego County Water Authority and annex into the Eastern Municipal Water District.
A 5-0 FPUD board vote, Monday, Aug. 24, authorized an additional $62,220 deposit to LAFCO. The deposit is expected to cover an additional 510 hours of LAFCO staff time at LAFCO’s rate of $122 per hour.
The San Diego County Water Authority will oppose the detachment of the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District from the SDCWA unless certain findings can be made.
A May 28 SDCWA board vote approved a resolution that the CWA will oppose the detachment unless it can be demonstrated that FPUD and Rainbow can guarantee that all obligations promised to their own ratepayers are met, that the detachment will not adversely affect the other 22 CWA member agencies or the county as a region, that the detachment and annexation into the Eastern Municipal Water District will not increase reliance on the Bay-Delta, and that the detachment will not reduce the CWA’s voting power at Metropolitan Water District of Southern California board meetings.
“This resolution does not oppose these detachment applications. It lays out a process to thoroughly review,” Sandra Kerl, general manager of CWA, said. “Today’s resolution is intended to get the ball rolling.”