Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District (District) received unanimous approval earlier this week from the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) which allows the district to activate its latent powers as a sewer district.
LAFCO’s action clears the way for the district to take ownership and control from the San Diego County Sanitation District, who is currently slated to own, operate, and manage the Harmony Grove Village Water Reclamation Facility (HGVWRF).
Once negotiations have been finalized between the two agencies, the Rincon district will become the provider of sewer services to the Harmony Grove Village community, which includes 425 acres and 742 residential homes aligning with the district’s water customers and geographical boundaries.
“We want to thank LAFCO’s commission and staff, the County of San Diego, and community groups, who recognized the value and benefits of activating the District’s latent powers as a sewer district. It is through their hard work, and that of District staff, that the District was able to achieve this action,” said James Murtland, the district’s board president.
“We anticipate that the County and the District will reach a mutual agreement on how to best achieve this transition between agencies,” said Greg Thomas, Rincon Water’s general manager. “If all goes as planned, the District anticipates taking over ownership and operation of the HGVWRF in early 2019.”
The production of recycled water from the HGVWRF will allow the district to increase its recycled water supply portfolio and reduce local use of potable water for irrigation purposes.
“It’s a big hurdle,” Thomas told The Times-Advocate. “For LAFCO to approve us to exercise our latent powers is a big deal. It took two years of effort to get to this point. It gives us the opening to finalize a few administrative things with the County.”
Harmony Grove Village is already a part of the water district, which manages their recycled water. Some residents of the neighborhood have spoken before the Rincon water board about their concerns over two proposed developments, the Valiano Specific Plan, which proposes 326 units and Harmony Grove Village South.
“I can understand the concerns, but that’s really a land use issue of the County,” Thomas said. Both Harmony Grove Village South and Valiano have already been approved by the Planning Commission and will be going before the Board of Supervisors this summer.
This area is in the unincorporated part of Escondido (i.e. isn’t within city boundaries) west of the city. Harmony Grove Village de-annexed out of the City’s sphere of influence. Valiano is in Escondido’s sphere of influence but is part of the unincorporated area.
One reason that Rincon was approved for providing services to the area, said Thomas, is “Because LAFCO likes multiservice agencies. They feel that it’s more effective when one agency provides multiple services. This will be our first venture into sewer. That’s why it’s a big issue for Rincon. It’s a mark of moving in a new direction.
Thomas added, “We’re excited about it. It’s going to be a lot more work but we look at it as we do water and recycle water and we should do sewer. It will eventually be one resource.”