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CWA to study new fee to develop local supply

 

Last updated 12/27/2007 at Noon



Discussion over two San Diego County Water Authority annexation proposals led to direction to County Water Authority staff to work with member agency general managers on developing a new fee to new connections which would fund the development of local water supply.

The CWA’s Water Planning Committee voted 6-5 December 6 to have CWA staff and the general managers discuss possibilities and return to the committee with details of a possible fee. Because the motion was for direction to staff, ratification by the full board was not required.

“It would take a fair amount of time to accomplish, but I’d like to get the ball rolling on it,” said Water Planning Committee chair Keith Lewinger, who is the Fallbrook Public Utility District general manager and FPUD’s representative on the CWA board.

The two annexations, which were both approved by the full CWA board pending fulfillment of conditions, are in Lemon Grove and Lakeside. The Lemon Grove annexation is for a new housing development and pocket parks on a former San Diego Gas and Electric property and passed the full board with three dissenting votes. The Lakeside annexation is for an existing industrial park which currently would utilize a pond on an adjacent property for fire suppression; the pond will soon no longer be available and the Lakeside Fire Protection District called for the annexation to the CWA so that the property would have water for fire protection.

Lewinger was the only CWA board member to vote against the Lakeside annexation. “My board does not support annexations of new territory. We don’t have enough water to meet the needs of existing territory,” he said.

Lewinger noted that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to the CWA, would not be receiving any additional water from the Colorado River or from the State Water Project in the future and that new demand must be met by new local supplies. Lewinger proposed the study of a new local supply charge, which would include seawater and brackish groundwater desalination. “I’m only asking for the general managers and the staff to analyze this and to come back to the board with recommendations,” he said.

The motion did not address what the general managers and CWA staff members would discuss. Lewinger noted the possibility of forming a special subcommittee from the Water Planning Committee to work with the general managers.

“It’s hard to rationalize allowing new annexation,” said Olivenhain Municipal Water District board member and CWA representative Mark Muir, who voted against the Lemon Grove annexation but supported the Lakeside annexation which is for fire protection rather than growth.

Muir explained that recipients of the agricultural discount are being forced to cut water usage by 30 percent and that all users are being encouraged to conserve water. “I don’t understand the rationale behind the allowance of the annexation,” he said.

 

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