Spaletta Chosen as FPUD Special Counsel for Santa Margarita Water Rights

The Fallbrook Public Utility District will use Jennifer Spaletta as FPUD’s special counsel for matters involving Santa Margarita River water rights.

A 5-0 FPUD board vote, Oct. 28, approved the legal services agreement with Spaletta Law. Spaletta replaces Martha Lennihan, who retired.

“We just retained another water rights attorney with a lot of experience and knowledge in the area,” FPUD general manager Jack Bebee said.

Riverside County LAFCO Conveys FPUD/Rainbow Reorganization to San Diego LAFCO

The potential reorganization in which the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District would detach from the San Diego County Water Authority and become part of the Eastern Municipal Water District will require approval from San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission, but Riverside County’s LAFCO has agreed to let the process be conducted entirely by San Diego County’s LAFCO.

L to R: Colter Shannon, Toby Stoneburner, Matt Perez, and Austin Wendt, stand in front of the utility vehicle they will take to Paradise, Calif. to help with water repairs from November’s treacherous Camp Fire. Photo: FPUD

Fallbrook PUD Crews Help Paradise Camp Fire Recovery Efforts

Crews from the Fallbrook Public Utility District are helping rebuild water services in Paradise, Calif. after the devastating November 2018 Camp Fire.

The Camp Fire burned 153,336 acres, destroyed 18,793 structures, caused 85 deaths and three firefighter injuries. The Camp Fire is the deadliest, most destructive fire in California’s history, according to CAL FIRE.

Colter Shannon and Austin Wendt left the FPUD yard Sept. 22 to make the 565-mile, 10-hour drive to Paradise. On Sept. 29, two more FPUD crew members, Toby Stoneburner and Matt Perez, will depart for the Butte County town. Each two-member team will spend two days driving and five days working on repairs for a total of seven days.

“I just want to help,” said Wendt. “That town went through devastation and I can actually do something to physically help. My wife and I always send backpacks to places devastated by hurricanes. For the most recent one, we sent 25 backpacks stuffed with school supplies.”

San Diego water agencies help Paradise Irrigation District

The Paradise Irrigation District is still struggling to repair the damaged infrastructure that resulted in more than 10,500 customers being issued a “do not drink” water advisory.

Two other San Diego County water agencies recently helped Camp Fire recovery efforts. Six water professionals from the Helix Water District and Padre Dam Municipal Water District spent one week in August assisting the Paradise Irrigation District.

Fallbrook PUD crews will bring back lessons learned to community

Their time away won’t cost FPUD a penny as their labor is reimbursed by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We’re doing this because we recognize that we are in a fire-prone area here in Fallbrook,” said Jack Bebee, FPUD general manager.

The Rice Fire in 2007 burned 206 homes, 9,472 acres, two commercial properties, and 40 outbuildings in the Fallbrook area. Bebee said he knows Fallbrook may one day need the help the crews are now providing to Paradise.

He said the crews can bring back with them some of the lessons they learn from the destruction and repair work. Bebee said the district is also working with North County Fire on emergency preparedness and the FPUD board room has been set up as an emergency command center in the event it is needed.

FPUD Considering Affiliating With EMWD Rather Than CWA

The Fallbrook Public Utility District has been part of the San Diego County Water Authority since SDCWA was formed in 1944, but FPUD is now investigating the possibility of detaching from the CWA and becoming part of the Eastern Municipal Water District. FPUD general manager Jack Bebee gave a presentation on the possibility at FPUD’s July 22 board meeting. “We just provided an update on the process and where we stand,” Bebee said. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the CWA began delivering water to San Diego County in 1947. MWD’s San Diego Aqueduct conveys water to a delivery point 6 miles south of the Riverside County line.

FPUD To Prepare Community Benefit Latent Powers Application

The Fallbrook Public Utility District will be preparing an application for San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission which would allow FPUD to expand its latent powers to provide for public community facilities. FPUD’s board voted 5-0 July 22 to authorize the preparation of the application to LAFCO, although the application itself will be reviewed prior to a separate FPUD vote. “The board reaffirmed the decision to move forward based on the request of those groups,” said FPUD general manager Jack Bebee. FPUD’s May 2018 meeting included a presentation by the Fallbrook Chamber of C…

Mary Maciel learns good safety practices as part of her summer internship with the Fallbrook Public Utility District. Photo: FPUD Water industry career opportunities

Fallbrook High School Summer Intern Learns About Water Industry Career Opportunities

The Fallbrook Public Utility District’s intern program is designed to prepare potential future employees to fill jobs that open up due to the ‘silver tsunami’ or wave of retirements in the water industry.

Mary Maciel, a junior at Fallbrook High, is Fallbrook Public Utility District’s second paid summer intern. She spends four hours a day each Wednesday working with each department including public affairs, customer service, engineering, construction and maintenance, engineering, water and wastewater operations, and meter reading.

The goal of the internship is to increase interest in FPUD and potentially draw local talent to the district. It is designed to identify career opportunities in the water industry and provide a hands-on learning experience leading to a career with the Fallbrook agency.

Aaron Cook, the district’s senior engineer, was born in De Luz and lived in the area until he went to college. He started his career after college in other cities, but wanted to come back home. He applied for his current  job as soon as he saw the opening. He has been at FPUD for nearly a year.

“It’s definitely an attractive place to work for raising a family,” Cook said.

In the next five to 10 years, FPUD expects a substantial number of employees to retire. And with retirements come job openings.

Growth trend in water industry career opportunities

Student intern Mary Maciel job shadows FPUD Utility Technician II Toby Stoneburner during her summer internship with the Fallbrook Public Utility District. Photo: FPUD Water industry career opportunities

Student intern Mary Maciel job shadows FPUD Utility Technician II Toby Stoneburner during her summer internship. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Maciel says she could see herself working in the water industry in the future.

There are currently 12 FPUD employees eligible for retirement, which is about 18 percent of the district’s workforce. As previously reported on Water News Network, it is an ongoing concern for the agency.

“These are good-paying jobs with good benefits, but you just don’t find a lot of people coming out of school who are interested, and we are struggling to attract skilled employees from the private sector,” said Jack Bebee, Fallbrook PUD general manager.

‘Silver Tsunami’ in water industry

Water News Network reports career opportunities are ample due to an imminent glut of retirements by an aging workforce. Forecasts call for between 1,200 and 1,500 open positions in the next three to four years in San Diego County alone, said Sandy Kerl, the San Diego County Water Authority’s acting general manager.

Forty percent of employees at the Padre Dam Municipal Water District will retire within the next three to five years, said Lisa Sorce, human resources director. Representatives from other utilities presented similar numbers.

READ MORE: Aging Water Workfore Spurs Industry Recruiting Efforts


Santa Margarita River Project - FPUD - Camp Pendleton

Santa Margarita River Project to Increase Local Water Supply

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors voted in July to authorize a Local Resources Program Agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Fallbrook Public Utility District for the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project.

The Local Resources Program, managed by MWD, provides funding for local water supply projects. MWD is expected to provide final approval of the project in coming months.

Earlier this year, an agreement between FPUD and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton settled a lawsuit that was filed in 1951 over the right to use water from the Santa Margarita River.

Water from Santa Margarita River would reduce imported water demand

The upcoming groundwater recharge project will improve existing facilities and build new facilities to capture surface runoff from the Santa Margarita River. When water flows are high, the runoff would recharge groundwater basins on Camp Pendleton. New and existing wells and pumps will transfer the groundwater to FPUD, which will treat and deliver it to customers.

Water from the river would reduce FPUD’s demand on imported water and minimize Camp Pendleton’s reliance on imported water.

Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project. Graphic: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project. Graphic: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Project would provide 30% of Fallbrook’s total water supply

Facilities will be constructed by Camp Pendleton and FPUD. Camp Pendleton has already constructed its own bi-directional pipeline and related infrastructure, as part of the project, which received congressional funding.

FPUD will construct groundwater extraction wells, a groundwater treatment plant, pump station, storage tank and conveyance and distribution pipelines among other things. The cost of the project is $54.4 million.

FPUD expects construction of the pipeline and treatment plant will begin this fall and take about two years. When completed, the project is expected to produce an estimated 3,100 acre-feet a year. One-acre foot, the equivalent of 326,000 gallons, can supply the average household needs of 2.5 four-person families for one year.

The project would provide about 30 percent of FPUD’s total water supply and nearly all of Camp Pendleton’s water needs.

Fallbrook Public Utility District logo

Landmark Agreement on Santa Margarita River Project Signed By Federal Judge

Fallbrook, Calif. – A lawsuit filed in 1951 has finally been settled as of April 29, 2019. After 68 long years of litigation, planning and brainstorming, the Fallbrook Public Utility District and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton jointly hailed the end of the lawsuit at a district board meeting May 20.

The Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel in April. This is a landmark agreement that finally, officially, settles how the two will share their water rights to the river.