The Aug. 7 meeting of the North County Joint Powers Authority focused on a schedule to integrate the services of the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District.
The JPA board did not vote on the item but rather heard a presentation from JPA executive officer Brian Brady.
“The discussion revolved around the two district offices,” Brady said.
The principal three areas whose operations will be combined are customer service, engineering, and system operations including the SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system.
“From a demographic point of view, the center of the two districts is closest to the Fallbrook office,” Brady said. “On a geographic basis the center of the districts combined is more the Rainbow office.”
The August 2013 timetable calls for finalizing cost estimates and processes to relocate FPUD’s system operations, including the SCADA, to the Rainbow office, finalizing cost estimates and processes to integrate the customer service staff at the FPUD office, issuing a Request for Proposals for a best management practices study for Rainbow and FPUD field operations, and completing SCADA computer and telecommunications upgrades at the Rainbow facilities.
The slated September activities involve moving FPUD’s system operations and SCADA to the Rainbow facility, completing the FPUD building modifications to expand the customer service area, completing computer and telecommunications upgrades to run parallel systems, and implementing the initial customer service transition public outreach.
Rainbow’s customer service staff will be moved to Fallbrook in October if the schedule is not changed. “Clearly we would need a well-defined transition plan, an outreach plan, for the Rainbow customers and a transition period,” Brady said.
The transition of Rainbow’s customer service to the FPUD office will also allow for an evaluation of how Rainbow’s customers react to functional consolidation. The creation of a joint powers authority allows for functional consolidation while leaving the governmental structure of each member agency intact (it also allows for inclusion of future members, including potentially city water departments which cannot be jurisdictionally consolidated), and a negative reaction by Rainbow’s ratepayers could allow for modification as well as serve as an obstacle to irreversible jurisdictional consolidation.
The planned October activities also include continuing the customer service transition outreach and completing the field operations best management practices study. The study recommendations will be implemented in the November timeframe, and November’s items also include development of space planning recommendations for the Rainbow and FPUD offices.
“These are really important integration test periods to prove how to best service the customer base,” Brady said.