FPUD briefs Congressional aides on project

Fallbrook Public Utility District general manager Brian Brady and FPUD assistant general manager Jack Bebee traveled to Washington, DC, to brief Congressional staff members on the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project.

Brady and Bebee flew into Washington on June 10 and spent June 11 and June 12 briefing staff of U.S. Senate members Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and U.S. House of Representatives members Duncan Hunter and Ken Calvert.

“We felt very positive about the meetings,” Brady said.

The Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project would use natural and enhanced flows in the Santa Margarita River to enhance the recharge of groundwater basins and would provide up to 18,000 acre-feet per year for Camp Pendleton and FPUD.

The project, which has a total estimated cost of $140 million, would also include a seawater intrusion barrier which would use recycled water and a distribution system to deliver water both to FPUD and to the San Diego County Water Authority. The management of the groundwater basins would provide FPUD with 4,000 to 6,500 acre-feet of new supply each year from the Santa Margarita River, which equates to approximately 25 to 30 percent of FPUD’s annual need of 16,000 acre-feet. Most of Camp Pendleton’s current supply is from groundwater pumping; the base obtains approximately 95 percent of its water from the Santa Margarita River basin. The local supply would protect against cutbacks from the County Water Authority (CWA) if the CWA’s State Water Project or Colorado River allocation is reduced.

“We’re getting to some important milestones in the project. The environmental report is due out in a couple of months for public review, the feasibility report is going to be out for review at about the same time,” Brady said.

The agreement between the United States Marine Corps and FPUD is also expected to be finalized soon; that agreement is undergoing Federal legal review. “Many things are coming together,” Brady said. “I’m pleased with the progress we’re making.”

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