Pilot Program Regarding Provision of Water Supply for Small Development Projects


Last updated 9/28/2021 at 2:25pm

The Borrego Water District (BWD) Board has unanimously approved a Pilot Program to accommodate requests from property owners for new potable water meters on small developments. Under the Pilot, BWD will provide water for small developments (consume less than 326,000 gal of water = 1 acre foot) per year while complying with the 75% overdraft of our Groundwater Basin. To meet the requirement, for every gallon of projected demand, 5 gallons of water supply will need to be purchased. The cost for 1 acre foot is currently set at $8,875.

The Pilot replaces what was previously known as the Water Credit Program, which for almost one decade, was the means for new development to obtain a water meter. A replacement for the Water Credit Program was needed following the favorable ruling by the Orange County Superior Court where the vast majority of Basin pumping agreed to implement a Groundwater Management Plan. In addition, water rights, called BPA, were granted with the ruling which can be transferred from any willing buyer to any willing seller.

The challenge for any current property owner wishing to develop is finding the willing seller. So far, there is no water rights market, like there is a stock market, where one can create an account and buy BPA. The landowner must find a private BPA holder, negotiate the deal and write and sign a sales contract that conforms to the stipulations of the Judgment. For most, this is a bridge too far. The BWD Board felt the need to provide the ability for development to continue by creating the Pilot for small developments. The Pilot reflects the legal requirements of the Judgment.

So, what does this mean for the current residents and businesses in BWD’s service area? It’s business as usual. BWD is responsible for having enough water to meet its current residents’ and businesses’ needs. However, new homes and businesses are not grandfathered under BWD’s responsibility. Any new water demand must buy water to meet its needs times five, which reflects the need for the Basin to reduce pumping by 75% on or before 2040.

Properties with a meter already installed are considered a current resident and would not need to purchase water. Specifics of the program are available from BWD at the office and on the website.