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By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

FPUD considering affiliating with EMWD rather than CWA


Last updated 8/24/2019 at 10:31am

The Fallbrook Public Utility District has been part of the San Diego County Water Authority since SDCWA was formed in 1944, but FPUD is now investigating the possibility of detaching from the CWA and becoming part of the Eastern Municipal Water District.

FPUD general manager Jack Bebee gave a presentation on the possibility at FPUD’s July 22 board meeting.

“We just provided an update on the process and where we stand,” Bebee said.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the CWA began delivering water to San Diego County in 1947. MWD’s San Diego Aqueduct conveys water to a delivery point 6 miles south of the Riverside County line. That arrangement allowed MWD and the CWA to provide equal contributions to connect from MWD’s Colorado River Aqueduct to the San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside. The CWA northern boundary is the county line.

All but one of FPUD’s connections are from MWD pipelines rather than from CWA pipelines. The Rainbow Municipal Water District was formed in 1953 to serve the Bonsall Heights Water District, which remained a separate retail agency until it was dissolved in 1975, and the Vallecitos, Cononita, Morro, San Luis Rey Heights and Yucca mutual water companies. Four of Rainbow’s eight connections are to the MWD portion of the pipeline.

The CWA’s rates are derived from several factors. The supply rate is a melded rate which melds the cost of water delivered from MWD, water purchased from the Imperial Irrigation District under the Quanitification Settlement Agreement and water produced by the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant in Carlsbad.

The CWA also has transportation, storage and customer service charges along with fees and charges for fixed expenditures which are incurred even when water use is reduced.

This change creates the possibility that FPUD and Rainbow can reduce their cost of purchasing water – and thus their rates – by detaching from the CWA and becoming part of another MWD member agency.

The Eastern Municipal Water District is a member of MWD and purchases imported water directly from MWD. The Western Municipal Water District is an MWD member and provides retail water sales of MWD supply to the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District as well as to the Rancho California Water District. If FPUD and Rainbow detach from the CWA and join Eastern, their status would be similar to that of the two water districts which obtain MWD water from Western.

FPUD, Rainbow and Eastern have been working on a Memorandum of Understanding which would detail service and expense obligations if FPUD and Rainbow detach from the CWA and join Eastern.

A reorganization would require approval from both San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission and Riverside County’s LAFCO, and FPUD and Rainbow would be responsible for all LAFCO fees.

FPUD and Rainbow voters would also need to approve the reorganization. The transition process is targeting the November 2020 election for that public vote.

“We’re continuing to work with the Water Authority to develop terms of establishing detachment and we’re planning to come back in August or September with an update,” Bebee said.

Programs MWD offers to its member agencies would be through Eastern rather than through the CWA, so FPUD would not lose those programs by detaching from the CWA.

“All that would transfer,” Bebee said.

That includes MWD’s Local Resources Program which provides financial incentives for the development of local supplies which increase supply reliability and reduce imported water demands.

FPUD is currently working with the CWA on a subsidy agreement for the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project and, in the event FPUD and Rainbow detach from the CWA and join Eastern, the funding would still occur but through Eastern rather than through the CWA.

U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, which is also part of the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project, would remain in the CWA, but the project would not be affected if FPUD left the CWA.

“They’re not a party to that,” Bebee said. “The project’s really mostly between us and Camp Pendleton.”

FPUD and Rainbow would lose any supply from the Carlsbad desalination facility or any future CWA facilities.

“If you detached, you would not be part of those programs,” Bebee said.

The CWA also has long-term plans for a desalination facility at Camp Pendleton, but environmental issues and the lack of a near-term or medium-term need for such desalinated water have shelved that project.

“The Camp Pendleton desal facility’s essentially not being pursued,” Bebee said.

The CWA also sees no near-term or medium-term need to extend Pipeline 6 from Temecula to the Twin Oaks Diversion Structure in San Marcos. The CWA would be responsible for the 11.7 miles from the delivery point to the Twin Oaks Diversion Structure, while MWD would be responsible for the rest of the 31-mile pipeline. The first 7 miles from Lake Skinner to Anza Road at DePortola Road in Temecula have already been constructed.

The Eastern Municipal Water District currently covers 555 square miles and includes Hemet, Menifee, Murrieta, Perris, Romoland, San Jacinto, Temecula and Winchester. The district has more than 140,000 water customers.


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