After an extended competitive process, the San Juan Capistrano City Council voted unanimously earlier this week to enter exclusive negotiations to transfer the city’s to Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD). SMWD staff will now begin working with city of San Juan Capistrano staff to develop a negotiated agreement the two agencies can bring to the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (OC LAFCO) for consideration and approval later this year.
“We’re pleased that we were selected to enter into these negotiations with the City,” said SMWD General Manager Dan Ferons. “We look forward to serving the residents and businesses of San Juan Capistrano.”
The San Juan Capistrano City Council undertook a study last year to investigate possible alternative structures for the City’s water and wastewater utility services last year. The study was undertaken because it had become increasingly more complex and costly to provide water and wastewater services over the last decade. The city’s Utilities Commission and the City Council worked together to establish four goals to guide the city in consideration of a change in organization for the City’s utilities, which included: bringing rate stability or rate relief to utility customers; continuing high levels of customer service; continuing representation for San Juan Capistrano residents, and protecting the city’s substantial investment in utility infrastructure.
In annexing the city’s utilities to one of the nearby special districts the city considered potential agreements with South Coast Water District, Moulton Niguel Water District and Santa Margarita Water District. In choosing SMWD, the San Juan Capistrano City Council cited the district’s provide local water supply reliability, rate stability, infrastructure investment and customer service. The city also noted SMWD’s stated intent to collaborate with South Coast Water District to efficiently serve the residents of San Juan Capistrano.
Also noted at the city council meeting was hat SMWD has proposed investing more than eight times as much money as their main competitor in the repair and replacement of San Juan Capistrano’s aging sewer and water pipes. Additionally, SMWD is developing the San Juan Watershed project in San Juan Capistrano. When completed this project which will capture and treat water in San Juan Creek and, through an interagency partnership with South Coast Water District, SMWD will maximize the use of the city’s groundwater recovery plant.