San Diego County Water Authority meeting in Kearny Mesa on July 27, 2023.
San Diego County Water Authority meeting in Kearny Mesa on July 27, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

This post first appeared in the July 28 Morning Report. Get the newsletter in your inbox today.

Tensions seem to be cooling slightly between the San Diego County Water Authority and those that want to leave it. 

Two small North County farming communities survived a second round of attempts by the Water Authority to wage a legal war against their divorce from the regional water supplier. The board’s disinterest in suing to stop the divorce signals that recent negotiations between the parties may yet end in a deal to get those communities to stay. 

Here’s what happened: The governing board at the Water Authority went into closed session Thursday to decide whether to sue the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission over its decision to approve the divorce. But the board emerged shortly thereafter with no action – meaning they either didn’t have the votes or the interest from its 24 member water districts to take the divorce to the courts. 

Why they want out: Rainbow Municipal Water District and Fallbrook Public Utilities District are leaving because they want cheaper water, and they plan to break up with San Diego and buy from Riverside instead. The thing left on the to do list to accomplish that is a vote among their respective ratepayers. 

But, wait: That is, if a bill being rushed through the state Legislature doesn’t upend that process. Assemblymember Tasha Boerner, a Democrat from Encinitas, is pushing this bill along with support from the city of San Diego which would add a requirement that the whole county needs to vote on the divorce as well – which would destroy Rainbow and Fallbrook’s chances of leaving. 

Tom Kennedy, Rainbow’s general manager, described the bill as “having a gun pointed at your head at the negotiation table.” If you want to continue to have constructive negotiations with us, Kennedy said, “pull AB 399 off the table.” 

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  1. My concern, as a ratepayer living in Temecula, is who took a ote here to as US if we wanted to share our water with those living in San Diego county?!

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