County Water Authority makes SAWR permanent

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Courtesy Photo.

The San Diego County Water Authority has a program called the Transitional Special Agricultural Water Rate, and the SDCWA will be transitioning the TSAWR into a permanent program.

A unanimous CWA board vote on Nov. 21 approved making the SAWR permanent. An annual review of the SAWR will be conducted in conjunction with other rates and charges and the cost of service process to determine SAWR rates is expected to be completed in spring 2020.

“I just think it’s a win for agriculture in San Diego,” said Frank Hilliker, who chairs the CWA’s Administrative and Finance Committee and also chairs the CWA’s Fiscal Sustainability Task Force.

Hilliker is on the board of the Lakeside Water District and is that district’s representative on the CWA board. He and other family members own the egg ranch his grandfather founded in 1942; that ranch utilizes well water and was not involved in the TSAWR program or its predecessor. Hilliker is also a past president of the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce.

The task force recommended that the TSAWR be made permanent, and the Administrative and Finance Committee also made such a recommendation prior to the full board vote.

“It’s no longer transitional, and it’s going to be opened up for new farmers,” Hilliker said. “There was a great response. Everybody understands the importance of agriculture in San Diego. I’m just really proud of the board members of the Water Authority and the hard work that staff put in getting it done.”

The Nov. 21 CWA board approval is for the framework only; the specific rates will be part of the budget process.

SAWR customers will pay the MWD Tier 1 untreated supply rate, the melded treatment rate, the transportation rate, the Customer Service Charge which is intended to recover costs which support the operations of the CWA, and the Infrastructure Access Charge which is used for CWA fixed expenditures incurred even when water use is reduced and is per meter equivalent rather than based on usage volume.

SAWR customers will not pay the melded supply rate which reflects water purchased from the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) under the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) and water produced by the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant as well as water delivered from MWD, the Storage Charge which recovers costs related to emergency storage programs, the Supply Reliability Charge, or other charges related to regional conveyance.

The new program will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. During the first half of 2020 the CWA will develop and finalize new program guidelines, and new sign-ups will be initiated during the second half of 2020.