With a weighted vote of just 1.6 percent, Ramona Municipal Water District has been asked to vote against the proposed Carlsbad desalination plant at the end of the month by the water board at Tuesday's bi-monthly meeting.
District General Manager David Barnum, who was elected by the board to represent the district for the San Diego County Water Authority, will place his vote at the Nov. 29 County Water Authority Meeting in Kearny Mesa. The public meeting, which will include the vote of 24 agencies, will be held at 3 p.m.
The water board ad hoc committee advised RMWD to vote against the Poseidon desalination project in Carlsbad that the Water Authority said will provide 8 percent of the total regional water supply by 2020.
"Desal sounded good years ago when we were desperate," said board member Darrell Beck. "It just seems to me we should not support this because water costs are already high."
President Bryan Wadlington agreed, noting that Ramona has cut back on its water usage by 50 percent in recent years.
"Water supply is not an issue for Ramona," he said. "[Desal] just doesn't make sense."
The county gave a presentation to the board on desalination on Oct. 23, where an official explained that if majority rules on the desal vote, Ramona will have to pay their share for the desal water in years to come.
Richard Hannasch, the financial services director for the Ramona district, told the water board back in October that desalination would cause a significant increase to water rates.
"It would be a $1 million a year increase," Hannasch said, which works out to about a 13 percent increase. "It will supply more water to the region, but at a much higher cost."
Barnum reiterated at Tuesday's board meeting that RMWD's vote on Nov. 29 is weighted at just 1.6 percent, while in comparison, the city of San Diego's vote is at 40 percent.
Under the agreement, the total price for the water—including costs to make improvements to the water authority’s pipelines and treatment plant to accommodate the new supply—is estimated at $2,042 to $2,290 per acre-foot in 2012 dollars, depending on how much water is purchased annually, according to the county water authority.
"It's important that Ramona knows the water board is looking out for your rates," Wadlington said.
The item to authorize Barnum to vote against the desalination project agreement was passed unanimously, 5-0.