Fallbrook & Rainbow Water Districts seek to leave San Diego County Water Authority
FALLBROOK (KUSI) – Fed up with rising water costs, two North County water districts, filled with financially strapped farmers and everyday ratepayers, want to leave the San Diego County Water Authority.
Instead of continuing to purchase their water from the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) – which has raised water costs on the districts by an average of 8% each year over the past decade – the districts have submitted an application with the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission to become wholesale water customers of the Eastern Municipal Water District.
If approved, the districts would be able to purchase their water for millions of dollars less each year compared to what they are paying today to SDCWA.
“It’s just not fair to ask our ratepayers to pay for infrastructure projects they don’t benefit from,” said Jack Bebee, general manager of the Fallbrook Public Utility District (FPUD). “These annual rate increases have taken a heavy toll on our ratepayers, especially those with limited incomes, as well as our water-dependent agricultural community, which is the backbone of our economy.”
“We have a responsibility to our ratepayers to provide them with a reliable supply of water at the lowest cost possible,” said Tom Kennedy, general manager of the Rainbow Municipal District. “With Eastern, we will have an equally reliable supply of water and our ratepayers won’t have to continue subsidizing water districts in other parts of the county which actually do benefit from these infrastructure projects. For the first time, our ratepayers would begin paying for the true cost of their water – nothing more, nothing less.”
By switching from SDCWA to Eastern, ratepayers in Fallbrook and Rainbow would see their water costs reduced by $7-10 million a year. Importantly, the water provided from Eastern would be from the same sources with the same level of reliability and delivered through the same pipelines as when purchased from SDCWA.
Tom Kennedy, General Manager of the Rainbow Municipal Water District, joined KUSI’s Jason Austell on Good Morning San Diego to explain why the change would be so beneficial to Fallbrook and Rainbow.
Furthermore, according to a study last year by London Moeder Advisors, FPUD and Rainbow have overpaid nearly $50 million to the SDCWA over the past ten years when compared to the benefits they have received.
The study also concluded that if FPUD and Rainbow were to change water wholesalers, the financial impact on the remaining county ratepayers would be minimal – about 50 cents per month per water meter. The amount pales in comparison to the financial impact of other local supply projects that are about to come on-line, including ones in San Diego, Oceanside, and the Padre Dam/Helix Water District.