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Ag water cuts could also affect CWA voting allocation


Last updated 2/7/2008 at Noon

The implementation of the Interim Agricultural Water Program cutbacks requires farmers on the IAWP program to reduce water deliveries by 30 percent.

The cutbacks which took effect January 1 could also adversely affect the weighted vote of the San Diego County Water Authority’s agricultural-oriented member agencies.

The SDCWA uses a weighted vote system in which the member vote entitlement is calculated based on the total financial contribution from each agency.

The totals include water delivered and sold to CWA member agencies as well as standby charges, capacity charges, infrastructure access charges, readiness-to-serve charges, connection and maintenance fees, and annexation fees.

“If it continues for a long period of time, it could have an effect,” said Fallbrook Public Utility District general manager Keith Lewinger, who is also FPUD’s representative on the CWA board and the chair of the CWA’s Water Planning Committee.

“They’ll be buying less. Their financial contributions will be less,” said CWA budget officer Tandy Ramsey. “It will affect all the districts that have any type of mandatory cuts.”

FPUD currently has a weighted vote of 2.51 percent. The Rainbow Municipal Water District has 4.20 percent of the CWA weighted vote.

“It would affect their weighted vote, sure, if our contribution goes down,” said Rainbow Municipal Water District board member Rua Petty, who is one of two farmers on the CWA board utilizing the IAWP program. “Our weighted vote would suffer, go down accordingly.”

Petty grows proteas and avocados while Bill Knutson of the Yuima Municipal Water District grows avocados, citrus, and nursery crops.

Lakeside Water District board member Frank Hilliker is also on the CWA board, although the Hilliker family egg ranch is on well water and does not use IAWP supplies.

An agricultural property may choose to pay the municipal and industrial rate and not be subject to the IAWP cuts, although the current reduction program stipulated a participant obligation cutoff date of December 31, 2006.

The IAWP provides surplus Metropolitan Water District of Southern California supplies to agricultural customers at a discounted rate, and the IAWP conditions allow for a reduction of up to 30 percent prior to implementing any mandatory reductions to municipal and industrial customers.

The CWA plan implemented a 30 percent cut to each CWA member agency receiving IAWP supplies based on the 2006-07 IAWP allocation.

The Interim Agricultural Water Program was implemented by MWD in 1994.

The twelve participating MWD agencies have a maximum annual cap of 155,190 acre feet, although agencies can use less than their allocation. The San Diego County Water Authority was allocated 100,459 acre feet.

The Western Municipal Water District, which is located in Riverside County, has the second-largest allocation at 32,347 acre feet.

The third-largest allocation belongs to the Metropolitan Water District of Orange County, which receives up to 7,657 acre feet.

Seven of the twelve districts are allocated less than 210 acre feet.

During Fiscal Year 2005-06 the 17 participating CWA agencies utilized 84,993 acre feet of IAWP supplies.

The Valley Center Municipal Water District had the largest consumption, with 34,399 acre feet of IAWP deliveries.

The Rainbow Municipal Water District ranked second with 20,264 acre feet, the Fallbrook Public Utility District was the third-largest user at 8,347 acre feet, the City of Escondido placed fourth with 4,318 acre feet, and the Ramona Municipal Water District was fifth at 3,898 acre feet.

“Not a good situation for our districts that are basically agricultural,” Petty said. “But we’re meeting the cutbacks and doing the best we can.”

Ramsey noted that the current allocation is based on contributions for the period ending June 30, 2007.

The 2009 weighted vote will be based on the period ending June 30, 2008, so only the cuts for the first six months of 2008 would impact the 2009 vote allocation and if a full fiscal year of cutbacks is required the impact would not be translated into the vote entitlement until 2010.

“Little blips like this aren’t going to change it significantly over the short period, so you’re not going to see any big changes next year,” Lewinger said.


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