The Rancho Santa Fe Post

November Water News...From the Desk of Marlene King

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November 19 Regular Board Meeting:

It was standing room only as citrus growers from RSF shared with Board Members their points-of-view regarding the challenges of citrus farming. These customers gave a history of citrus farming in the Covenant and the measures they have taken to implement efficient irrigation practices. They asked the S.F.I.D. Directors for financial relief from the proposed new fourth tier rate.

The previous month the Board had requested staff do a survey of agricultural rates in San Diego County, and as a result of both the survey and the public comment, directed staff to delay the schedule for the 218 rate hearing – estimated to be a delay of at least two months – in order to have the financial rate consultants analyze the feasibility of instituting an agricultural rate. 

This means that the Cost of Service Study (COSS) document and accompanying 218 hearing documents will not be mailed out to customers until the first of March 2016, at the earliest. Those documents had been scheduled to be mailed out December 30, 2015. This adjustment to the COSS schedule pushes out the date for the 218 public hearing to no earlier than April 2016. 

The COSS schedule adjustment allows the Board time for a more careful review of the COSS document that will be posted to the S.F.I.D. website at the same time that it is made available to the Board of Directors for their review.

While the Board voted 3-2 to approve the 9%; 9%; 9% rate increases over the next three years, the largest water users will in fact see rate increases the first year hovering around 23%, while a percentage of smaller users will have rate decreases. Rates are a zero sum game: rate decreases for small property users result in increased charges for large property users.

El Niño Predictions:

2015 is setting a record for highest recorded SST ocean temperatures, exceeding the 1996-97 El Niño by a degree or so. Climatologists now anticipate the El Niño rains to begin in January 2016.

“A strengthened subtropical jet stream – which is the primary means by which El Niño brings increased precipitation to California – is unlikely to occur prior to winter due to the intrinsic seasonal cycle of temperature variations across the Pacific Basin.”  - Daniel Swain, Climate and Earth System Dynamics Group

Governor Brown’s Friday the 13 Executive Order: 

On November 13, the Governor extended his April Fool’s Day Executive Order requiring a 25% state-wide reduction in urban water use. The Governor’s original Executive Order was set to expire February 28, 2016. Brown’s Friday the 13 Order will extend the cutbacks through next Halloween “if drought conditions persist through January 2016.”