Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

LAFCO creates RCD advisory committee

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

San Diego County's Local Agency Formation Commission has created an advisory committee on the county’s three resource conservation districts.

A 7-0 LAFCO board vote Aug. 1, with no City of San Diego representative present, approved the committee which will have nine members while also delegating the appointment of the three at-large committee members to LAFCO consultant Adam Wilson.

The general managers of the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego, the Mission Resource Conservation District, and the Upper San Luis Rey Resource Conservation District will all be on the committee, each RCD will choose one board or staff member to be part of the committee, and Wilson will select at-large members representing water, fire, and agriculture.

“This is a terrific motion, and I’m happy to support this,” said Joel Anderson, who is one of two county supervisors on the LAFCO board.

A resource conservation district does not have regulatory power but is classified as a special district and is thus subject to LAFCO governance. Resource conservation districts were formed to control water runoff and prevent soil erosion. They are now also involved in watershed management, recreational area management, urban and agricultural irrigation and water use, water quality, forest land productivity, and public education for children and adults.

“In today’s world RCDs are doing a vast array of services and programs,” Wilson said.

LAFCO undertakes periodic municipal service reviews for all special districts. A municipal service review evaluates services and anticipated needs. A sphere of influence study determines the boundaries best served by a particular agency. LAFCO approved municipal service review and sphere of influence updates for the three RCDs in February 2021. The December 2020 LAFCO meeting included discussion but no formal vote of the draft updates.

The RCD of Greater San Diego has a 2,889 square mile boundary and includes 13 incorporated cities as well as unincorporated land ranging geographically from Otay to Valley Center and Borrego Springs. The Mission RCD encompasses 185.2 square miles and includes Fallbrook, Bonsall, DeLuz, Rainbow, and a portion of the City of Oceanside.

The Upper San Luis Rey RCD includes a portion of Rainbow along with Pala, Pauma Valley, and Warner Springs; its 402 square mile boundary includes approximately 88 square miles of sovereign Indian reservation land which are not part of the RCD.

The RCD of Greater San Diego has an office in Lakeside, the Mission RCD office is in Fallbrook, and the Upper San Luis Rey RCD does not have its own building but holds board meetings at the Yuima Municipal Water District office in Pauma Valley.

The RCD of Greater San Diego and the Mission RCD both perform activities which extend beyond the boundaries of their agencies. The Fire Safe Council of Greater San Diego County is part of the RCD of Greater San Diego activity and works with 41 locally-formed community fire safe councils.

The San Diego County Water Authority contracts with the Mission RCD to conduct agricultural water management services, residential surveys, and full landscape audits. Those activities conflict with current LAFCO restriction of the RCD activity to within its jurisdictional boundaries.

The state principal act for RCDs authorizes them to perform soil erosion, water conservation, wildlife enhancement, and agricultural enhancement services. Any additional services would require LAFCO to activate latent powers for those services including the RCDs' current water distribution and erosion stabilization services.

In 2014, the State of California adopted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act whose purpose is to strengthen local groundwater. The SGMA required local agencies to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency for high-priority and medium-priority basins by July 2017 and had a January 2022 deadline to develop plans to achieve long-term groundwater sustainability.

The San Luis Rey Valley Groundwater Basin, which the Department of Water Resources defines as beginning at the confluence of the San Luis Rey River and Paradise Creek and ending at the Pacific Ocean within the Oceanside city limits, is designated as a medium-priority basin. The Upper San Luis Rey RCD is a partner for the GSA addressing the San Luis Rey Valley Groundwater Basin.

Wilson met with the RCDs individually and collectively. “All three of them have been very supportive in wanting to work together,” he said.

The advisory committee will be providing quarterly reports to the LAFCO board.


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