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CWA updates annexation policy to ensure supply reliability

The San Diego County Water Authority (CWA) board updated its annexation policy to address the implementation of the segment regarding sufficiency of supplies for other member agencies.

The CWA board vote April 22 unanimously supported the addition of the implementation policy which will determine whether an annexation will have an adverse effect and whether potential action can mitigate that effect. The determination of a potential adverse effect will include whether the additional supply needs were already considered in the Urban Water Management Plan, whether actual demands are exceeding forecasted demand, whether a Drought Management Plan has been activated, and whether facility constraints exist.

The member agency which would be annexing the new area may be required to develop additional supply as an offset for the increased demand.

“It is a sound policy,” said Otay Water District general manager Mark Watton, who also represents Otay on the CWA board. “It puts that responsibility onto the member agencies.”

In February 2006 the CWA board adopted a set of 13 annexation policies covering relationship to San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California policies, protection of member agency supply reliability, conservation and local supply use requirements, annexation fees, priority for annexations to an existing CWA agency, concurrent annexations to other water agencies, necessary connection facilities, environmental compliance, consistency with land use approvals, annexation of commonly-owned lands, avoidance of surrounded annexed or non-annexed territory, administrative costs and annexation of tribal lands.

The policy covering protection of supply reliability calls for the CWA to evaluate the adequacy of water supplies and facilities to meet the needs of the proposed annexed territory based on adopted CWA facilities and supply plans including the most recent Water Facilities Master Plan and Urban Water Management Plan.

The CWA board may deny an annexation if it determines the annexation would adversely affect water supply reliability to CWA member agencies and can require conditions to mitigate or avoid adverse effects. Potential exemptions include insignificant demand, defined as no more than five acre feet per year, and domestic health and safety necessities.

“The procedures do provide some member agency local control,” said CWA principal water resources specialist Dana Friehauf.

A future CWA board meeting will likely review the possibility that the increased demand of a member agency because of the annexation may trigger a penalty assessed to the CWA for excessive use of MWD supplies during a drought situation.

“There’s the potential for negative impact to other member agencies if the annexing agency goes over its allocation,” said Fallbrook Public Utility District general manager Keith Lewinger, who is also FPUD’s representative on the CWA board.

Future action will also likely occur on an inequity which provides automatic water annexations to cities with water departments but not to water districts; cities are not subject to annexation fees while water districts would pay such fees and a meter capacity charge may be a more equitable method for an annexed territory to pay its fair share for new supplies.

“There will be responsibilities for the local district, but annexation can move forward,” said San Dieguito Water District board member Jim Bond, San Dieguito’s CWA board representative. “It looks like it’s a plan that allows annexation responsibly.”

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