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CWA denies membership to SLRMWD


Last updated 3/9/2007 at Noon

The San Diego County Water Authority officially denied a request from the San Luis Rey Municipal Water District to become a new member of the County Water Authority.

Because the alternative which will be explored by the San Luis Rey Municipal Water District is to become a retail agency of the Valley Center Municipal Water District, the CWA’s otherwise-unanimous vote February 22 included an abstention by Gary Arant, the general manager of the VCMWD and that water district’s representative on the CWA board. The CWA denial came one day after the SLRMWD board approved a resolution requesting initiation of formal negotiations with the Valley Center district to provide retail water and wastewater services for the San Luis Rey district.

“They need us to take action to make it all formal,” said Fallbrook Public Utility District general manager Keith Lewinger, who is FPUD’s representative on the CWA board and also the chair of the CWA’s Water Planning Committee.

The denial was taken positively by SLRMWD annexation and activation of latent powers consultant Jack Hoagland. “They said no just now, which we needed to know so we can move forward,” Hoagland said. “We were pretty sure we knew what the answer was going to be, but we needed them to say it with formality.”

The San Luis Rey Municipal Water District was founded in 1958 and covers approximately 3,000 acres in Pala. It currently does not provide water or wastewater services but exists as a legal entity to protect groundwater pumped from wells by existing landowners. Its primary function is to provide coordination and cooperation between landowners on water rights, groundwater use management, and interaction between landowners and government agencies on legal, engineering, and planning problems. The district is adjacent to the Rainbow Municipal Water District as well as the Valley Center Municipal Water District.

Anticipated development projects within the SLRMWD boundaries would create a need for imported water and for wastewater services. The San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission, which handles boundary adjustments including annexations and consolidations, is preparing a Municipal Service Review and a Sphere of Influence update to help determine the best future situation for the area. The draft Municipal Service Review is complete and has identified three options: annexation to the Valley Center Municipal Water District along with the CWA and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, annexation to the Rainbow Municipal Water District along with the CWA and MWD, and annexation to the CWA as a separate entity. An environmental impact report on the options is being prepared by LAFCO and will likely be brought before the LAFCO board, along with the final Municipal Service Review and Sphere of Influence update, by mid-2007.

It would not be unprecedented for the San Luis Rey Municipal Water District to join another water district while remaining as an independent resale agency of a wholesale water district. The Upper San Diego River reorganization of 2006 combined the Riverview and Lakeside water districts while giving the consolidated Lakeside Water District independence from the Padre Dam Municipal Water District and direct CWA membership. The Lakeside Water District had previously merged with the Lakeside Farms Water District in the 1970s, so at one time the predecessor of the Padre Dam Municipal Water District included three retail water districts. The Lakeside Water District was an original CWA member, but in 1957 the Lakeside, Riverview, and Lakeside Farms districts created the Rio San Diego Municipal Water District as a wholesale agency. At the time the Lakeside Water District gave up its CWA membership while the CWA granted membership to the Rio San Diego district; that 1957 reorganization also saw the transition of the Riverview district from a mutual water company to a public agency. As additional properties adjacent to the Rio San Diego district were developed, some parcels received direct service from that district rather than through one of the three retail agencies, thus making the Rio San Diego district both a wholesale and a retail agency. In late 1976 the Rio San Diego Municipal Water District merged with the Santee County Water District and was renamed the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. The Crest and Alpine Highlands water districts have also since merged with the Padre Dam district. The independence of the enhanced Lakeside Water District ended Padre Dam’s wholesale operations.

In August 2005 the SLRMWD asked the CWA to initiate proceedings for membership as a new agency. Although the CWA did not take immediate action, an Urban Water Management Plan approved by the CWA board in December 2005 noted that projected water demands included potential near-term annexations, including 4,217 acre feet for San Luis Rey. In February 2006 the CWA board adopted a policy on annexations which included giving priority to annexations to an existing member agency and discouraging annexations of new member agencies.

Although the CWA board approved the addition of the Lakeside Water District in August 2006, that process was initiated prior to the adoption of the CWA’s annexation policy and the new agency covered existing CWA territory rather than additional land.

The options being explored by the San Luis Rey Municipal Water District also include direct annexation to the Metropolitan Water District, although MWD’s policies also include encouraging annexation to member agencies while discouraging new agencies. The CWA board action also expressed opposition to the proposal of direct MWD annexation, noting that such annexation would create a new agency surrounded by CWA member agencies (although the Pala Indian Reservation, which is not part of the CWA, is adjacent to the SLRMWD on the east, the Yuima Municipal Water District which shares a border with the Valley Center district is east of the Indian reservation). “We’re still pursuing that option,” Hoagland said of direct MWD membership.

“We’ll continue looking at options but we’re going to talk more formally with Valley Center,” Hoagland said.

Hoagland noted that the water source would be the same whether the San Luis Rey district obtains direct MWD or CWA membership or affiliates with the Valley Center or Rainbow districts. “It’s still going to come from the same spot,” he said.


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