Once again, Fallbrook and Rainbow will bear brunt of water cost increases by the County Water Authority
Last updated 7/21/2022 at 12:28pm
Hayden Hamilton and Dave Baxter
Here we go again.
The San Diego County Water Authority last month approved new water rates and, once again, the people of Fallbrook and Rainbow will be paying more for their water than they should.
In fact, the variable component of SDCWA water costs for customers in the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District will jump by approximately 8% next year – higher than any of the Water Authority’s 22 other member agencies.
While the SDCWA has tried to blame the recent cost spike on “inflationary pressures” let’s be clear: they’ve been hiking water rates for years. Over the last decade, purchased water costs for our customers have shot up an average of 8% per year. This has taken a heavy toll on local residents, business owners and our agricultural industry, which is the backbone of our economy.
Today, the cost of water in San Diego County – including Fallbrook and Rainbow – is among the highest in America.
Unfortunately, there is no end in sight for these rate hikes from the SDCWA. While the SDCWA often forecasts lower rate increases, they are based on overly optimistic assumptions predicting continued growth in water sales, which ignore the real impact of local supply development and conservation.
These skyrocketing water costs are the reason our two districts are actively seeking to part ways with the SDCWA. Instead, we hope to begin purchasing our water from the Eastern Municipal Water District where we will save our respective ratepayers an estimated $7.6 million each year on water costs, according to an independent analysis.
Whether or not we can make the switch will be up to the San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission, which is expected to vote on the matter later this year. If approved by LAFCO, the voters of Fallbrook and Rainbow will have the final say in an election that will likely be held sometime next year.
A recent study has verified what we've been saying all along – that over the past decade Fallbrook and Rainbow water customers have overpaid to the Water Authority nearly $50 million compared to the benefits they've received. This money has gone to fund Water Authority facilities and pipelines that are of little, if any, use to our two districts.
And these so-called infrastructure “investments” that you’ve been paying for have done nothing to shield us from the water cutbacks that have been urged by California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Our respective boards of directors feel strongly that changing water suppliers is the right move for our districts. Doing so is estimated to save our ratepayers millions of dollars a year while providing a reliable supply of water for decades to come.
Hamilton is President of the Rainbow Municipal Water District Board of Directors.Baxter is president of the Fallbrook Public Utility District Board of Directors.