FALLBROOK – Members of the San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission, who will vote in 2021 on whether the Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District can detach from the San Diego County Water Authority, received an update on the matter earlier in August.
Keen Simonds, executive officer of LAFCO who gave the update, focused on the work done so far by an advisory committee. LAFCO formed the advisory committee to review the applications and determine what issues should be analyzed. LAFCO is the government agency that would need to approve both applications before the water agencies could detach.
Both FPUD and Rainbow are seeking to detach from the water authority and join Eastern Municipal Water District. Through Eastern, they will be able to purchase water for about 25% less than they are currently paying the authority. If approved by LAFCO, the move is expected to save Fallbrook and Rainbow ratepayers $8-10 million a year, collectively.
During the LAFCO meeting Aug. 3 – which was held online due to COVID-19 – Simonds briefed commissioners on the advisory committee’s work to date and said the committee plans to analyze three main areas. These include water reliability, potential water rate impacts to the remaining member agencies of the authority and whether there will be a financial “true up” between the agencies if the detachment applications are approved.
Later that afternoon, the advisory committee met, also online, to begin work on these areas of focus.
“We’re very appreciative to Mr. Simonds and LAFCO staff for keeping this process on track,” Jack Bebee, general manager of FPUD, said. “It is important that we stay focused on the key issues before us, which will inform LAFCO commissioners as they consider our applications.”
FPUD and Rainbow are seeking to detach from the authority because the agency has raised water costs on their ratepayers by an average of 8% each year for the past decade.
“By purchasing our water from Eastern, Fallbrook ratepayers will be able to save a significant amount of money while maintaining an equally reliable supply of water,” Bebee said.
“High water costs are having a major impact on all of our customers, and especially our agricultural customers,” Tom Kennedy, general manager of RMWD, said. “Everyone in our community has seen the devastating loss of avocado acreage caused by high imported water costs. Since about 70% of our customers’ bills go to the water authority, the transition to Eastern will be very beneficial for all customers.”
The authority is expected to submit its written response to the detachment proposals by mid-September. The response will be reviewed by LAFCO staff.
LAFCO is expected to vote on the applications sometime in 2021. If approved, the matter would then go before voters in the Fallbrook and Rainbow service areas.
Submitted by Fallbrook Public Utility District.