South Bay Water History

San Diego County Water Authority

South Bay Water, formally South Bay Irrigation District, is a Special District organized in 1951. The district joined the San Diego County Water Authority in 1952.

In the 1920s, the community leaders anticipated the need for more water than local sources could furnish and applied for a supply from the Colorado River. The Cities of Chula Vista and National City were among the original members of the San Diego County Water Authority and this entitled them to their shares of the water. Bonita, Sunnyside, Lincoln Acres and other adjoining areas did not have this entitlement because they were not part of any public agency. The only way the Colorado River water could be distributed was through the investor owned California Water and Telephone Company’s Sweetwater System, which supplied the unincorporated areas as well as two cities. This required the creation of the public agency, South Bay Water.

South Bay Water

On May 31, 1977, with the support of the voters, South Bay Water and the City of National City purchased the Sweetwater Divisions of California American Water Company. Twenty-two and a half million dollars of revenue bonds were sold and possession of the water system facilities of the privately owned company was accomplished on August 30, 1977. When South Bay Water was formed, the City of Chula Vista withdrew as a member agency of the San Diego County Water Authority and South Bay Water replaced the City as a member agency. As a member of the County Water Authority, the district acquired the power to contract for and distribute the water imported by the San Diego County Water Authority. South Bay Water joined the City of National City to form a Joint Powers Agency, knows as Sweetwater Authority. The district then leased the water system to Sweetwater Authority to operate and maintain the integrated water system in the City of National City, Chula Vista and surrounding unincorporated areas.

Board of Directors

South Bay Water is governed by a 5 member Board of Directors, elected by voters who reside within their Divisions. The 5 elected members also serve on the Board of Directors of Sweetwater Authority. The South Bay Water Treasurer, Secretary and Management are representative of the unique arrangement between Sweetwater Authority and South Bay Water. They answer to both Sweetwater Authority and South Bay Water Board of Directors, which reflects the integral relationship between the two agencies.

Revenue Bonds

In 1990, Sweetwater Authority exercised its option to purchase the water system from South Bay Water and issued approximately $22,700,000 in revenue bonds. The bonds were necessary to finance the construction of improvements to the water system and to acquire the water system by paying off the balance remaining from the 1977 South Bay Water bond issue. The option to acquire the water system in this manner was included in the 1977 lease agreement between South Bay Water and Sweetwater Authority. South Bay Water and the City of National City amended the Joint Powers Agreement in 1990. This agreement is to assure that the Joint Powers Agreement will remain in effect throughout the period of time that the bonds of Sweetwater Authority are outstanding. The Authority will only sell or dispose of property when at lease five of the seven Directors of the Authority approved of such sale.

Tax Rate

South Bay Water imposes no tax rate, receiving its revenue only from interest on its investments. The continued existence of South Bay Water assures residents of the right to purchase their share of available imported water and assures annual payment of the bonds. When its role as financier of the bonds has been completed, South Bay Water will continue as a public agency, representatives of the people, devoid of private profit and focused on service to the community through water conservation and safety.