Opinion: Move by Two Small Water Districts Could Have Impact Across Southern California

The Fallbrook and Rainbow water districts got the green light to, in effect, move north.

That will impact ratepayers in San Diego County, and it could alter the balance of power in water decisions far beyond.

Like so many contentious developments when it comes to water, this one might not be over for a while.

County Board Votes to Allow Fallbrook, Rainbow to Detach from Water Authority

The San Diego County Local Area Formation Commission voted 5-3 on Monday to allow two rural water districts in North San Diego County to detach from the San Diego County Water Authority.

LAFCO, which is responsible for forming special public districts, did not require a vote by ratepayers and did not set a timetable for detachment of the two districts, pending further study.

The Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District, with a total of 56,000 residents, are seeking to join the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County in hopes of securing lower-cost water for farmers.

County Leaders Consider Fallbrook, Rainbow Switch from San Diego County Water Authority

County leaders are considering allowing the cities of Fallbrook and Rainbow to switch from San Diego County Water Authority to a water district in Riverside County.

Water Authority Responds to LAFCO Commission Vote on Detachment

July 10, 2023 – Mel Katz, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors, issued the following statement in response to today’s decision by the San Diego County Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO) regarding the proposed detachment of two water agencies from the Water Authority.

“Today’s unprecedented decision by San Diego LAFCO is very disappointing because it will raise water rates for disadvantaged communities, working families, 70% of agriculture in the county, small businesses, and everyone else across our region. We’re deeply concerned that LAFCO decided that water ratepayers across San Diego County don’t get a say in whether Fallbrook and Rainbow can walk away from their bills and shift their costs to the rest of the county.

“It’s also clear that LAFCO failed to study the environmental impacts of its decision, as required by state law – a serious breach of public confidence in a system that’s supposed to protect us all.”

— Mel Katz, Board Chair, San Diego County Water Authority



North County Communities Wait for Permission to Part Ways with County Water Authority

A county commission will meet again in August to decide whether to allow two North County communities to switch water providers.

“We cannot afford to buy items, such as water, at the super-high rates for our farm to be sustainable,” said Kendall Farms CEO Jason Kendall, during Monday’s meeting at the County Administration Center.

The San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission is considering a proposal to allow the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District to switch water service to Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County and cut ties with the San Diego County Water Authority.


North County Farmers Desperate to Ditch Expensive Water Supplier. Will San Diego Leaders Stop Them?

Should two rural North County communities be allowed to purchase cheaper water from outside of the San Diego region in a desperate attempt to save farming — even if it could mean slightly higher bills for other ratepayers?

RMWD Takes Care of Live Oak Park Bridge Brackets and Pipe Supports

When the County of San Diego approved a contract for the replacement of the Live Oak Park Road bridge which will impact two Rainbow Municipal Water District water mains, Rainbow utilized the county contract with Hazard Construction to add the water main relocation to the work.

Rainbow Approves Lease Agreement for Bonsall Reservoir Site

The Rainbow Municipal Water District’s inactive Bonsall Reservoir is currently being leased for nursery use. Rainbow staff has been evaluating whether the site would be suitable for a photovoltaic energy generation facility but, until a decision is made, Rainbow has been providing agricultural leases.

On May 25, Rainbow’s board voted 5-0 to approve a new two-year lease with nursery operator Don Dabbs. Dabbs will pay $1,683 per month retroactive to Jan. 1, and the lease will run until Dec. 31, 2022. The agreement also has provisions of a potential 12-month renewal term or continuation of the lease on a month-to-month basis should Rainbow proceed on a solar generation facility or choose to sell the property.

Rainbow MWD Board Approves Heli-Hydrant At Pala Mesa

The Rainbow Municipal Water District will be adding a Heli-Hydrant fire protection system on its Pala Mesa site. A 5-0 Rainbow board vote May 25 added the Heli-Hydrant project to Rainbow’s capital improvement plan, appropriated $149,728 from the district’s capital reserve fund, and authorized Rainbow general manager Tom Kennedy to execute the contracts required to procure and install the equipment.

Update on Rainbow MWD Headquarters Site Development Provided

The Rainbow Municipal Water District is planning to sell some of its property to fund the replacement of its current headquarters, but that will require prerequisites to have potential buyers interested in the land.

Rainbow has contracted with MasterCraft Homes Group, LLC, for a development study which is being performed in phases, and on March 23 Rainbow general manager Tom Kennedy provided the Rainbow board with an update on information which has been obtained from the study.