Jack Bebee and Tom Kennedy
Special to the Village News
Few topics in San Diego County garnered more headlines in 2022 than the worsening drought and the soaring cost of water.
For the residents of Fallbrook and Rainbow, both the drought and the cost of water have become major areas of concern, but especially the cost.
This spring the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) is expected to approve or deny applications by our two water districts – the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District – to part ways with the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) and instead begin purchasing water from the Eastern Municipal Water District.
If our applications are approved and we’re allowed to buy water from Eastern, ratepayers in the Fallbrook and Rainbow service areas will realize a collective savings of approximately $7.6 million annually, according to an independent analysis conducted by LAFCO.
Unfortunately, in purchasing water from the SDCWA, our two districts – which serve much of our county’s important agricultural industry – pay some of the highest water costs in the region. Over the past decade, our water costs from the SDCWA have shot up an average of 8% per year. In fact, our two districts have long-subsidized water agencies in other parts of the county by paying for facilities we don’t need or use.
Fortunately, there’s a solution. By purchasing water from Eastern, we will pay only for the water we use and the cost of getting it to your tap. In addition to the cost savings, LAFCO has determined that Eastern can provide us with a reliable supply of water for years to come.
Sadly, the SDCWA is working aggressively to kill our effort, making misleading statements. Why don’t they want us to leave? Because they want to continue to collect your money for the benefit of their customers down south.
Our proposal has received the support of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group, the Rainbow Community Planning Group, as well as the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, all of which voted overwhelmingly to endorse the switch after reviewing the facts.
If LAFCO approves our applications – which could come as early as March – then voters in the Fallbrook and Rainbow water districts will have the final say in an election held in each of the two districts’ service areas.
Without question, escalating water rates have taken a huge toll on the people of Fallbrook, Rainbow, and Bonsall, as well as our agricultural community, which is vitally important to our economy. Changing water suppliers will bring relief to our ratepayers, while ensuring a safe, reliable supply of water in the years ahead.
We wish you and your family a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Bebee is the general manager of the Fallbrook Public Utility District. Kennedy is the general manager of the Rainbow Municipal Water District.