SFID Water News for March 2021

By Frank Creede

March 14, 2021

Frank Creede is SFID’s Division 1 director representing Solana Beach and Rancho Santa Fe.

Water can be a boring topic and we all expect a safe, clean, reliable supply without any drama. The board and staff of the Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID) are working hard to provide just that as well as cost effective water. Our district is one of the largest per capita water users in the state, recognition that we really don’t want or need. Future state mandates will undoubtedly force reduced consumption which in turn forces higher prices. When you consume less water, SFID receives less revenue and hence the pressure to increase rates. Sounds like bad news, but it’s not. SFID has among the lowest rates in San Diego County. The following table illustrates water rates for several adjacent water districts. I added Monterey Peninsula Water rates as an example of how bad rates can get.

2021 Current Residential Water Rates by DistrictTier 1Tier 2Tier 3Tier 4Tier 5
Santa Fe Irrigation District $2.48 $3.35 $4.90 $5.32 $6.42
Olivenhain Municipal Water District $3.30 $4.90 $5.49 $6.58 – 
San Dieguito Water District $3.19 $5.06 $6.25 $7.12 – 
City of San Diego $5.26 $5.89 $8.41 $11.83 – 
California-American Water, Monterey County $6.69 $10.03 $23.41 $43.48 $53.51
Rates are per HCF (Hundred Cubic Feet). Each HCF = 748 gallons. Tier cutoffs and fixed fees vary by district. 

Rate Increases for 2021

At the November board meeting, the board voted to absorb the 3% annual rate increase approved in early 2020. In addition, the board voted also to not pass on the 4.8% increase in imported water rates from the San Diego County Water Authority in 2021. The board voted that our financial position allowed the district to absorb these increases at a time when many of our customers have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Refund from San Diego County Water Authority

SFID just received a refund of $748,000 from the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) for successful litigation against the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) for overcharges in the 2011-2014 time period. More importantly, future water imported from MWD will not be subject to past overcharges. With the total award of $44M, the water authority is looking out for ratepayers’ interests, including SFID customers.

Reserve Fund Policy

Thirty percent of our water comes from less expensive local water from Lake Hodges and 70 percent is more costly imported water. Late in 2020, a new “Local Water” reserve fund was created to capture rainfall in excess of that budgeted. Last year we budgeted for 2,400 acre feet (AF) of less expensive local water from Lake Hodges. As we saw tremendous rainfall last year, we had 455 AF above that budgeted and we can now capture that excess in a new Local Water reserve fund and use it to offset future imported water purchases, which should primarily benefit tier 3 and higher water users. The local water fund is now at $385,000. With more rain in 2021, maybe we can keep this trend going!

Water Leaks

Every month the SFID board receives appeals for leak credits that were denied as being outside of policy. SFID policy states that leak credits are only available if the customer has signed up for the Automated Metering Portal which can provide text and email notifications for excessive water use. Leaks can happen to anyone at any time. To preserve your rights to receive a leak credit, please take the time to go to the SFID website, www.sfidwater.org with a recent bill in hand. Select “I Want To” and “*NEW View My Water Use”. Call (858) 756-2424 for assistance. (Editor’s Note: This article steps you through the process of using the portal). (Update: This is only available to those SFID customers that have had a new electronic meter installed).

Full Board

As of late January, I am pleased to say that the SFID board selected Sandra Johnson to represent division 3. We now have a full board and are hard at work on an updated strategic plan. We are looking into cost effectiveness, diversifying our sources of water, improving our customer focus, long term plans for infrastructure including fortifying the Lake Hodges dam, cybersecurity and disaster preparedness among other topics. We seek community input and the board would love to hear from you! Please contact board members with your feedback here: https://www.sfidwater.org/151/Board-of-Directors

The Santa Fe Irrigation District provides drinking and irrigation water to about 20,000 residents in Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and Fairbanks Ranch.

Leave a Reply