As a resident of Fallbrook since 1988, I have been an FPUD rate payer for 33 years.
The current effort to detach the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District from the San Diego Water Authority is of great importance to our community. Serious business.
Since 1944, San Diego County has been joined in a common approach to water quality and availability. I am a big fan of such collaborative efforts when all concerned receive value in proportion to contribution. The collaboration must stand the test of fairness to all in order to make sense.
I am convinced that the SDWA collaboration no longer passes the fairness test when it comes to FPUD and RMWD rate payers. The significant point of unfair contribution is evident in the millions of dollars, estimated to be $50 million, paid by our local ratepayers for infrastructure projects that do not provide any benefit to those ratepayers.
Case in point is the desalination plant in Carlsbad. Our local rate payers should not have been responsible for its construction nor its ongoing costs since the benefit to our communities is insignificant. And yet we did pay for it, and will continue to do so, if FPUD and RMWD remain members of SDWA.
Ratepayers have also endured annual increases in their water bills and our agricultural community has been decimated. These accumulated effects over time have rendered the collaboration with SDWA illogical. In short, the juice is no longer worth the squeeze for ratepayers.
Circumstances have changed since 1944. FPUD and RMWD have wisely developed an independent water delivery system that has been, and will continue to be, reliable and cost effective. The second part of the equation is a viable and reliable source of water for years to come. Eastern Municipal Water District is waiting in the wings to be our partner.
FPUD and RMWD are prepared to seamlessly transition to the new collaboration once LAFCO gives the green light to the ratepayers taking a vote on the detachment. If successful, when I pay my bill, I will know I am paying for the cost of water, rather than the water and infrastructure projects that do not benefit the delivery of that water.
Now is the time for residents to become knowledgeable about this essential service and its future in our communities. It’s not going to be an easy-breezy conversation. In a recent Op-Ed, two representatives of the San Diego Water Authority (one from Carlsbad and one from Del Mar) expressed the sentiment that the proposed detachment must “not harm the residents of Fallbrook and Rainbow.”
Perhaps well intended, but that comment reflects a degree of disrespect. It infers we don’t know what we are doing way up in inland Fallbrook, Bonsall, and Rainbow.
Well, we do know what we are doing on behalf of all categories of ratepayers – businesses, homeowners, and renters. No more subsidizing infrastructure that does not serve us. We know an unfair deal when we see it. That which was useful over the decades needs to be adjourned. We can be thankful and gracious for the past collaborative successes and move into the future on separate paths. Now is the time.