Request for Pauma Valley colonia designation withdrawn

The Pauma Valley Water Company withdrew its request to have Pauma Valley designated as a colonia.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors had heard public comment on the proposal September 12 and had continued that hearing to October 31, but the water company withdrew its request prior to the second hearing.

Designation as a colonia establishes eligibility for infrastructure improvement grants from the United States Department of Agriculture.  A colonia is typically required to be located within 150 miles of the Mexican border and must lack adequate water, sewer, housing, road, and drainage facilities.  The community must also have been in existence and have lacked services prior to the creation of the Federal program.

The Board of Supervisors previously designated the East County backcountry communities of Jacumba, Tecate, Lake Morena, and Canebrake as colonias.  The Pauma Valley Water Company sought colonia status for Pauma Valley so that it could obtain grant funding to correct deficiencies in its water system.  The privately-owned water company serves approximately 25 homes, an apartment complex, and a taco shop.

Pauma Valley has three public water districts.  The Yuima Municipal Water District was formed in 1963 and is part of the San Diego County Water Authority and thus also within Metropolitan Water District of Southern California boundaries.  The Mootamai Municipal Water District was formed in 1962 to protect property owners’ water rights from annexation into the Yuima district being formed at the time but does not operate a water system itself and is not part of the County Water Authority of the Metropolitan Water District.  Because the Mootamai district does not have a distribution system, it does not have an interconnection to Yuima for access to imported water.  The Mootamai MWD also has latent powers for fire protection and emergency medical services, although Mootamai contracts with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for those services.

The third water district in Pauma Valley is the Pauma Municipal Water District, which was formed in 1960 to manage water rights protection for property owners and coordinate legal and engineering activities regarding water supply. The Pauma MWD board members are also its staff, and the Yuima district provides records management services although no formal contractual agreement has ever occurred. The Pauma MWD also has latent structural fire protection and emergency medical services powers while contracting such services to CalFire, and it is not within CWA or MWD boundaries and has no interconnection to Yuima.

The Pauma Valley Water Company is within the boundaries of the Mootamai Municipal Water District.  Annexation into the CWA and MWD would require the payment of annexation fees.

In December 2007 the Pauma Mutual Water Company sent an income survey to residents. The 51 responses produced a median household income of $29,000-29,999, which would qualify the area as severely disadvantaged based on the state median household income of $55,837 and severely disadvantaged status constituting less than 65 percent of state median income or $36,294.

Residents elsewhere in Pauma Valley expressed objections to giving the community the potentially negative stigma of colonia status in order to assist a private company.  The Pauma Valley Water Company may bring back its request for colonia status, although the county supervisors indicated that the water company would need to prove eligibility for colonia designation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.