REGION — The San Diego County Water Authority filed a lawsuit Monday over the proposed departure of two North County water agencies, which the water authority alleges will raise water rates for other county residents.
The lawsuit challenges a decision from the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission to allow the Rainbow Municipal Water District and Fallbrook Public Utility District to leave the water authority.
The water authority alleges the move, which will allow Rainbow and Fallbrook to purchase cheaper water elsewhere, will shift around $140 million in costs that would have been paid by the Rainbow and Fallbrook agencies to the rest of the county’s service area.
Earlier this month, the water authority board voted 21-2 in favor of pursuing litigation over the issue.
“Litigation is a last resort, but LAFCO’s deeply flawed decision leaves us with no choice but to stand up for residents, businesses and the environment,” said San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Mel Katz in a statement.
“Even though we were forced to file this lawsuit, we have had several good-faith discussions with Fallbrook and Rainbow, and we look forward to continued talks in hopes of finding a mutually agreeable resolution outside the court process.”
According to the lawsuit, LAFCO did not follow proper procedures before permitting the agencies’ exits from the water authority.
The suit also alleges Fallbrook and Rainbow are required to pay “their fair share of the water authority’s indebtedness” before leaving, but instead LAFCO proposed an exit fee for the two districts that the water authority says “fell $140 million short of covering the two agency’s costs over just the first decade of detachment even by LAFCO’s own flawed methodology based on years-old data and questionable projections.”
Fallbrook and Rainbow’s departures are not final, as they must receive final approval from voters before leaving the water authority.