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Re: 'RMWD approves ordinance to assign water rights' from the Sept. 20 Village News


Last updated 10/18/2018 at 10:01am

I wanted to provide some additional context to an article that was published in the Village News recently. In the article, an impression was made that the new ordinance would affect individuals who currently have small wells or were planning to drill new small wells. This is not the case.

The ordinance deals with large scale properties that hold actual water rights as determined by the state of California. The vast majority of small domestic or irrigation wells on private property are not registered as having water rights with the state of California.

Under state law, a small domestic or irrigation well is one that produces under 4,500 gallons per day or under 10 acre feet per year. Technically, even these small wells are required to register with the state, but the state database on water rights only shows one small water right registration in the San Luis Rey Valley, according to

To further clarify, it is economically infeasible to extract and treat to municipal standards small amounts of water; the district is interested in larger water rights that are held in and around the San Luis Rey River area. There are several of these rights in our area – some of which are pre-1914 water rights which are the highest priority rights under state law.

In addition, the article did not convey clearly that the district would not simply “take” anyone’s water rights. The process of transferring the rights will include negotiations about the relative value of the rights and some form of compensation for those rights would be agreed upon. It was discussed specifically during our meetings but did not make it into the article.

As our imported supplies become more expensive and less reliable, it is critical for the future water supply of our region that we identify and develop a local resource. The ordinance was intended to bring that discussion with rights holders who wish to access municipal services.

We welcome anyone with concerns about this ordinance to contact me at their convenience.

Tom Kennedy

General Manager of the Rainbow Municipal Water District


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