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FPUD board approved annual budget

Water affordability is a key issue for the district

 

Last updated 7/10/2021 at 8:36am



FALLBROOK – The Fallbrook Public Utility District Board of Directors approved its 2021-22 fiscal-year budget at the June 28 board meeting.

The total approved budget is $47.3 million, substantially lower than last year's $66.8 million budget due to completion of construction of the district's new local water project.

One component of the budget, the $31.4 million operations budget, is 1.5% higher than the prior year's. The operating costs would have increased much more, but the district was able to reduce the impact of rising wholesale water costs because of anticipated completion of the Santa Margarita River local water project.

It is expected to be up and running by the end of the year, providing local water to Fallbrook taps and reducing the cost of water purchases. Currently, virtually all of FPUD's water is imported.

The project is important because it will provide about 50% of the district's water. Getting local water means there is significantly less need to buy imported water, which is expensive and continues to rise in cost an average of 8% each year to Fallbrook ratepayers.

Once complete, the project will provide a buffer from imported water costs and an extra shield against drought.

Water affordability is a key component of FPUD's operation. Looking forward, FPUD has initiated a process to change wholesale suppliers from the San Diego County Water Authority to Eastern Municipal Water District, which supplies water to Temecula and other parts of Riverside County.

The process is called "detachment" and it would help reduce the cost of the remaining water used by Fallbrook ratepayers

"While this effort will be politically challenging, it has the potential to provide FPUD customers with immediate and substantial rate relief," said Jack Bebee, general manager. "With Fallbrook having large lots and farms, water cost is a big concern for our customers."

The move to Eastern would save FPUD approximately $3 million per year, reducing the cost of water by about 30%. Rising water costs from the Authority have been an ongoing issue for Fallbrook ratepayers. Further, the "treated" water rate from the Authority will increase 6.8% at the end of the year.

FPUD's detachment proposal must first be approved by the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, which is governed by local and appointed officials and is responsible for overseeing the establishment, expansion, and boundary changes of cities and special districts, including water districts.

LAFCO has established an advisory committee to review and analyze the proposal. The full commission is expected to vote on it sometime in 2021 or early 2022. If approved, the proposal would go before Fallbrook voters, who would have the final say. For more information, go to http://www.fpud.com.

Submitted by Fallbrook Public Utility District.

 

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