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Vote To Merge Rainbow, Fallbrook Water Districts Delayed

Updated: 4 p.m.

A decision on the proposed merger of the Rainbow and Fallbrook water districts in North County was continued Monday to Sept. 14.

For the merger to go through, it must be approved by the Local Agency Formation Commission. San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn is the commission board's chairman, and he asked for the postponement because he could not attend Monday's meeting.


Michael Ott, LAFCO's executive officer, said board members of Rainbow Water District and the Fallbrook Public Utilities District requested updated financial statements to reflect how each is doing. They also wanted an update on how finances would change under a merger, Ott said.

Ott also requested each district to submit any questions they have about the proposal so the board will be clear about areas of dispute or where there is common ground.

Original post

Vote To Merge Two San Diego County Water Districts Could Come Monday
A vote Monday could decide whether the Rainbow Water District is dissolved and merged with its neighbor, the Fallbrook Public Utilities District.

A vote Monday could decide whether the Rainbow Municipal Water District is dissolved and merged with its neighbor, the Fallbrook Public Utilities District.

The proposal to merge two of San Diego County’s 24 water districts has created a storm of protest.


The agency with the authority to change local government boundaries, the Local Agency Formation Commission, recommends approving the merger.

But Rainbow characterizes the plan as a hostile takeover and says its agricultural customers could see rates go up unfairly. Also, up to 20 jobs could be lost through the consolidation.

Michael Ott, executive officer of the commission, said he’s heard vehement opposition from people in both districts.

“Any time a governmental agency is proposed for elimination, it’ll produce strong feelings on both sides of the issue,“ Ott said. “And this reorganization of water districts in North County is no exception.”

Ott said no one would lose their job prematurely, because jobs will be reduced by attrition rather than layoffs. He said his agency’s research shows consumer rates won’t change significantly.

“The bottom line is that there will be improvements to services, as well as cost savings,” he said. “And we feel that those are compelling reasons to justify approval.”

San Diego County is served by a patchwork of two dozen water agencies, but Ott said this is the only merger being proposed in this region.

If the commission's board approves the merger, those who object to it could call for an election. But to trigger an election, 25 percent of Rainbow and Fallbrook residents would need to send in written protests.

Tom Kennedy, general manager of the Rainbow Water District, said collecting written protests from 25 percent of residents is a tall order because many people live in scattered homes down unmarked tracts in the rural area.

San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn, who chairs the board and whose district includes the two water districts, will not be at Monday’s meeting, which could lead to the vote being postponed.

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