The RSF association and the SFID settle the dispute over the water tariff
The Santa Fe Irrigation District and the Rancho Santa Fe Association reached an agreement settling the dispute filed in December 2018 over the district’s water tariffs in 2016. In the lawsuit, the Association alleged that the structure tariffs unfairly penalized Covenant members with higher water tariffs because their larger properties require more water for irrigation.
At its June 17 meeting, SFID’s board of directors unanimously approved the settlement resolving the dispute. Earlier in June, the deal was approved by the association and named plantiffs Howell Wynne and Greg Gruzdowich, former member of the SFID board of directors and current director of the board of directors of the RSF association.
According to a press release, under the settlement agreement, the Association, Gruzdowich and Wynne agree to dismiss the water tariff dispute, and SFID has agreed to hire a tariff consultant to prepare a new cost of service study to include, as part of the analysis, a budget-based tiered pricing structure.
Without committing to a specific tariff structure, SFID’s board of directors has agreed to take into account, in good faith, the tariff structures proposed by the tariff advisor and others during its tariff setting process. .
“Communication and collaboration are key principles of SFID’s vision and values,” SFID Board Chairman Michael Hogan said in a press release. “We are very pleased to have been able to resolve this dispute with the Association and look forward to the ongoing discussions on the value of water and fair tariffs for all categories of customers.
“As our local communities, region and state face long-term challenges such as drought, climate change and increased regulatory pressure, working with the wider community is essential to sustaining our economy and our quality of life. Sustainability of water supply resilience and affordability are the cornerstones of our community, and we are committed to engaging with our customers.
The settlement agreement also suspends all proceedings related to a claim filed by the Association, Gruzdowich and Wynne regarding SFID’s 2020 rates until SFID has reviewed and adopted a new rate schedule or January 31, 2023, whichever is later.
According to the statement, SFID will commission the new cost of service study from fall 2021. Public meetings and workshops will be held to educate the community on the cost of a safe and reliable water supply and the future plans for the district. Any changes to the water tariff structure will be presented to the SFID Board of Directors and adopted prior to implementation.
“Fair water rates for Rancho Santa Fe and all customers have been the focus of our current litigation efforts. We are delighted to take a step forward in collaboration with SFID in this process, ”said Mike Gallagher, past president of the board of directors of the RSF association. “As residents of a rural community, our members have appropriate and reasonable water needs. We hope that SFID will design a fair and just water pricing structure for all customers, whether residential, agricultural or irrigation, at a price that represents the true cost of providing this essential resource.
SFID Board of Directors meetings are open to the public and are currently held virtually. The district is currently assessing public safety requirements before holding in-person meetings later this year.
For more information on the meetings, visit sfidwater.org.