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FPUD Declares Level 2 Drought Watch, Requesting Conservation During Drought

With much of the southwestern United States in a persistent drought that is stressing source waters such as the Colorado River and the State Water Project, the Fallbrook Public Utility District is encouraging everyone to do their part and conserve as much water as possible.

Fortunately, in Fallbrook, the situation isn’t dire like in other parts of the state. Local residents and businesses have been cutting back and conserving for years, and the district is now selling about the same amount of water as it did back in the 1950’s, even though Fallbrook’s population has grown significantly since then.

Other parts of the state aren’t as lucky.

“While there are no mandatory restrictions on watering days and times right now, the governor has hinted that if people don’t conserve more across the state, he will require additional mandatory restrictions, so it’s important that we all do what we can to avoid this,” said Jack Bebee, general manager of FPUD.

Fallbrook Public Utility District Celebrates 100 Years of Service

The Fallbrook Public Utility District on June 5, celebrated its 100th year of providing water and sewer service in Fallbrook. From its first years serving 800 customers, the utility district, or FPUD, now supplies water to more than 35,000 residents in North San Diego County.

A view of the FPUD Water Reclamation Plant on Alturas Road, prior to the the estblishment of Marine Corps Base Pendleton. Photo: Tom Rodgers/FPUD

Fallbrook Public Utility District Celebrates 100 Years of Service

The Fallbrook Public Utility District on June 5, celebrated its 100th year of providing water and sewer service in Fallbrook. From its first years serving 800 customers, the utility district, or FPUD, now supplies water to more than 35,000 residents in North San Diego County.

The Fallbrook community celebrated FPUD’s centennial on June 4. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

The public celebrated the centennial with an old west themed community celebration on Saturday, June 4, including water games and hands-on water/science labs for kids; antique tractors and vehicles; and activities led by North County Fire Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. A crowd of 1,200 residents took part in the celebration.

One hundred years of service

A mural depicting the Fallbrook community. Photo: Courtesy Fallbrook Historical Society

In 1922, the tiny Fallbrook Public Utility District consisted of 500 acres and was incorporated on June 5 to serve water from local area wells along the San Luis Rey River.

Fifteen years later, in 1937, the Fallbrook Irrigation District voted to dissolve, and a portion of the former Irrigation District became a part of FPUD, increasing FPUD’s footprint to 5,000 acres. Responding to the growth, FPUD developed additional groundwater supplies from the San Luis Rey and the Santa Margarita rivers.

As Colorado River water became available in 1948, water consumption gradually increased.

Customer service has always been a priority. This photo dates to the 1950s. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Customer service has always been a priority. This photo dates to the 1950s. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Significant expansions of the service area took place in 1950 when FPUD annexed the last remaining portion of the Fallbrook Irrigation District and in 1958 when the area to the north of town on both sides of the Santa Margarita River was annexed to the District. By 1959, FPUD was consuming 10,000 acre-feet per year. (An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, or enough to serve the annual needs of 2.5 typical four-person households for one year).

The use of Santa Margarita River water ended in 1969 when floods destroyed the district’s diversion works. One year before the floods, the U.S. federal government agreed to develop a dam and reservoir project on the river for FPUD and the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. It was the culmination of 17 years of water rights litigation in the U.S. vs. Fallbrook case. The federally sponsored project was known as the Santa Margarita Project.

Imported water supports community development

When water became available in the 1920s, avocado trees were planted. By 1985, the region reached a peak of 88,000 acres of avocados. Photo: Fallbrook Historical Society

In 1978, FPUD began receiving water supplied by the California State Water Project, further supporting the area’s business, agricultural, and residential development.

FPUD’s footprint grew by 11,789 in 1990 when voters in the DeLuz Heights Municipal Water District to the northwest of FPUD decided to dissolve their 17-year-old district. Its entire service area was annexed to FPUD.

FPUD’s scope of operations grew once again in 1994 when the Fallbrook Sanitary District was dissolved, and FPUD assumed sewer service responsibilities within a 4,200-acre area of downtown Fallbrook.

Water supply from Santa Margarita River

In November 2021, FPUD celebrated the launch of the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project, some 70 years in the making. The district now receives approximately 50% of its water needs from the river. It was made possible by settling a lawsuit filed against FPUD in 1951 by the federal government over rights to the river.

Fallbrook is well-known for its high-quality agricultural crops, led by avocados and citrus. But according to the Fallbrook Historical Society, before the formation of FPUD, agriculture had to withstand drought conditions. Bee farming was widespread, followed by olives and cattle ranching.

When water became available in the 1920s, avocado trees were planted. By 1985, the region reached a peak of 88,000 acres of avocados. The Fallbrook area also supports commercial nurseries growing flowers, palms, cactus, and plants.

Planning for the next century

Imported water permitted Fallbrook to thrive. This view of Main Street is from 1984. Photo: Fallbrook Historical Society

Today after 100 years, the District provides imported and local water and sewer service to 28,000 acres. About 30% of the water is used by agriculture. FPUD also produces about one and one-half million gallons of recycled water daily to irrigate nurseries,  playing fields, landscaped freeway medians, homeowners associations, and common areas.

(Editor’s note: The Fallbrook Public Utility District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Fallbrook Public Utility District logo

Big Event Marks FPUD Turning 100 Years Old

Fallbrook, Calif. – Fallbrook Public Utility District has been providing water and sewer service in Fallbrook for nearly 100 years. Now thanks to a unanimous vote by the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, the process is moving forward for the district to be able to provide additional community services under the umbrella of parks and recreation services, streets, and street lighting.

The Fallbrook Public Utility District turns 100 years old on June 5.

The district is celebrating its anniversary with a huge, open-to-the-public event June 4, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., to mark a century of supplying water to more than 35,000 residents in Fallbrook.

LAFCO Begins Public Review of Draft MSR Updates for FPUD, RMWD, NCFPD, CSA No. 81

San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission has released the draft municipal service review updates of Fallbrook special districts for public review. Discussion on updating the municipal service review information for the Fallbrook Public Utility District, the Rainbow Municipal Water District, the North County Fire Protection District, and County Service Area No. 81 was part of the Dec. 6 LAFCO board meeting although releasing the report for public review did not require a vote.

FPUD to Lease Indirect Potable Reuse Pilot Treatment Equipment from Intuitech

A pilot test will be conducted on the Fallbrook Public Utility District’s planned indirect potable reuse project, and Intuitech will be leasing the pilot treatment equipment to FPUD.

FPUD’s board voted 5-0 Oct. 25 to authorize a $370,450 agreement with Intuitech for the lease of the equipment. The pilot project will determine the best treatment process as well as the feasibility of utilizing reclaimed water to augment groundwater in the Lower Santa Margarita River basin.

Free, Drought-Tolerant Plants Available to FPUD Customers

The Fallbrook Public Utility District is now accepting applications for customers to receive free, drought-tolerant succulents. Approved applicants will receive the plants, free of charge, to transform their landscape and save water.

Fallbrook PUD recently completed the annual painting of Rattlesnake Tank to salute the Class of 2022. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

Class of 2022 Cheers New FPUD Rattlesnake Tank Artwork

Although the Fallbrook Public Utility District water storage tank uphill from South Mission Road has received a fresh set of painted numbers annually for 35 years, this week’s update was the most anticipated makeover ever.

FPUD crews change the painted numbers on the tank to reflect the year incoming seniors will graduate at Fallbrook High School. A three-person team made up of district employees Matt Lian, Colter Shannon, and Toby Stoneburner recently painted over the “21,” changing it to “22” to welcome the graduating class of 2022.

It took the team five hours to paint the 25-foot-tall numbers onto the 3.6 million-gallon tank, compressed through the magic of time-lapse video to under 30 seconds.

“Parents and Fallbrook High seniors anxiously await the painting of the tank and begin calling the office early in June to find out when we’re doing it,” said Noelle Denke, FPUD public affairs officer. “This year, it’s especially exciting for them because they’re going back to campus and need something to look forward to.”

The reason for the annual external makeover dates back 35 years. Before the district started painting the tank, Fallbrook High seniors took on a longstanding dare. They would climb up the hill in the middle of the night, scale the tank and then paint it themselves.

Since it’s a long way down, FPUD staff became concerned for student safety. Workers installed a fence at the time to prevent access by the annual stealth painting crew.

But it didn’t deter the energetic students. Instead, they just began jumping the fence in the middle of the night. So district officials struck a deal with the students. If they would stop risking their safety for the dare, FPUD would safely paint the tank every year to commemorate them.

A 25-foot salute to Fallbrook High’s graduating seniors   

The annual painting for the Class of 2022 began due to safety concerns. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

The annual painting for the Class of 2022 began due to safety concerns. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

“We’ve been doing it ever since,” said Denke.

Since the tank shares the space with several cell towers, Fallbrook Public Utility District makes arrangements to power down their towers. Then crews safely hoist themselves up to the tower and get to work painting.

Rattlesnake Tank was built in the early 1950s and is one of Fallbrook’s oldest and most visible water tanks.

(Editor’s note: The Fallbrook Public Utility District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

FPUD Now Accepting Applications For Summer Internship

Students at Fallbrook High, Oasis High or Ivy High schools can now apply online for a paid summer internship at Fallbrook Public Utility District. This year, FPUD is looking for students interested in a career in social media and customer service. The internship is available to any student enrolled in one of those schools as a junior or senior for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. Candidates must be 16 years or older on the first day of the internship, July 12. Pay will be $14 per hour, and the intern will work three hours per week, for six weeks. The internship is designed for students looking to help with social media outreach, create posts and videos, assist with outreach and developing ideas, and learn more about the water industry. It will provide a hands-on learning experience to help build skills and knowledge to help guide students to potential career paths.

FPUD Contract for Ross Lake PRV Project Awarded to Genesis

The Fallbrook Public Utility District contract for the Ross Lake pressure reducing valve project was awarded to Genesis Construction.

The Hemet company had the low bid for the FPUD project, and on April 26 the FPUD board voted 5-0 to approve a $51,444 contract with Genesis Construction.