FALLBROOK – The Fallbrook Land Conservancy endorsed an effort by the Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District to change water suppliers, from the San Diego County Water Authority to the Eastern Municipal Water District.
The switch is expected to save Fallbrook and Rainbow ratepayers an estimated $7.6 million a year, according to an independent analysis conducted for the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission. The governing commission of LAFCO, which is charged with overseeing boundary changes of cities and special districts, including water districts in San Diego County, is expected to consider the districts’ applications later this summer.
“At a time when prices are rapidly rising for just about everything – from natural gas to groceries – it’s important that we do everything we can to help people make ends meet,” Susan Liebes, chair of the Fallbrook Land Conservancy, which is dedicated to acquiring, protecting and managing open space for the benefit of wildlife and the community, said. “Switching to Eastern will greatly benefit residential, commercial and agricultural water users by reducing the amount they pay for water compared to what the San Diego County Water Authority is currently charging and is expected to charge in the years to come.”
“Over the last decade, the cost of water from the Water Authority has increased by an average of 8% each year for Fallbrook and Rainbow water customers,” Jack Bebee, general manager of the Fallbrook Public Utility District, said. “These costs are not only expected to continue rising, but for Fallbrook and Rainbow, our costs from the Water Authority will be higher than most other districts, which will exacerbate the challenges for our rural agricultural community. The only solution is to change suppliers.”
“We’re grateful to the Fallbrook Land Conservancy for supporting this effort,” Tom Kennedy, general manager of the Rainbow Municipal Water District, said. “Our customers have been hit hard by rising water costs, especially our agricultural sector, which is vital to our economy. We need to reduce these costs or many of our agricultural businesses will continue cutting production or worse.”
The rising cost of water has long been a major concern in San Diego County.
A study conducted in 2020 by statista.com concluded that San Diego’s water rates are among the highest in the nation. Further, a 2017 report by the American Water Works Association found that San Diego area households pay more than twice the national average for water.
Last June, the Water Authority raised water costs on Fallbrook and Rainbow by another 8% – more than any of the Water Authority’s other 22 water districts. And, according to the Water Authority’s latest Long-Range Financing Plan, water costs could jump 50% over the next five years. For 2024, the Water Authority is proposing to raise rates by 14%.
As for water reliability, an independent analysis commissioned by LAFCO concluded that Eastern has the wherewithal to meet the short- and long-term water needs of Fallbrook and Rainbow.
If LAFCO’s governing commission approves the applications, then voters in Fallbrook and Rainbow will have the final say in an election that would likely be held next year.
The Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, Fallbrook Community Planning Group and the Rainbow Planning Group have endorsed the change as well.
Submitted by Fallbrook Land Conservancy.