Farmland in the Rainbow area
Farmland in the Rainbow area. Photo courtesy Rainbow Municipal Water District

Voters in the Fallbrook Public Utility and Rainbow Municipal Water districts overwhelmingly approved measures Tuesday to leave the San Diego County Water Authority.

Measure A in Fallbrook led 94.4% to 5.6%, while Measure B in Rainbow led 95.4% to 4.6%, according to figures from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. Fewer than 5,000 people had cast ballots in each district.

The two rural districts are seeking lower-cost water from the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside at the risk of a less-reliable supply. The Riverside district relies on the Colorado River and has not invested in desalination and water recycling as has occurred in San Diego.

The San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission voted July 10 to allow both districts to leave the water authority. No timetable for the districts’ departure was set.

The water authority filed a lawsuit Aug. 21 over the proposed departure, alleging it will raise water rates for other county residents.

The water authority contends the departures 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.

The Governor has approved law requiring a countywide vote for any future departures, but it passed the Legislature to late to affect the election.

City News Service contributed to this article.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.