History

Site of our Water Reclamation Plant on Alturas Road, before Camp Pendleton
photo courtesy of Tom Rodgers 

It was the age of the Jazz Era. The roaring twenties were in full swing. Soda sales soared as Prohibition outlawed the sale of alcoholic beverages. And women were still fighting for the right to vote. 

THE YEAR WAS 1922, when the tiny Fallbrook Public Utility District, consisting of about 500 acres, was incorporated on June 5 to serve water from local area wells along the San Luis Rey River. Fifteen years later, FPUD began to grow. In 1937, the Fallbrook Irrigation District voted to dissolve and a portion of the former Irrigation District became a part of FPUD, increasing the size of the District to 5,000 acres. FPUD responded to the growth by developing additional groundwater supplies from both the San Luis Rey and the Santa Margarita rivers. 

As Fallbrook grew, so did the need for more water.

The District became a charter member of the San Diego County Water Authority when it was formed in 1944 and thus became eligible to receive a portion of the Colorado River diverted by The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. FPUD didn’t actually receive its first delivery of imported Colorado River water until four years later. 

When Colorado River water became available in 1948, water consumption within the District gradually increased. By 1959, FPUD was consuming 10,000 acre-feet per year. (An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, or enough water to meet the needs of eight household people for one year.) And the area continued to grow. 

Significant expansions of the District service area took place in 1950 when it annexed the last remaining portion of the Fallbrook Irrigation District and in 1958 when the area to the north of town on both sides of the Santa Margarita River annexed to the District. 

Use of Santa Margarita River water continued until 1969 when floods destroyed the District's diversion works. These facilities were not replaced because in 1968 a Memorandum of Understanding and Agreement was signed with the Federal Government to develop a two dam and reservoir project on the river for the benefit of FPUD and the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. This agreement was the culmination of 17 years of water rights litigation in the U.S. vs. Fallbrook case and the federally sponsored project was known as the Santa Margarita Project. 

In 1978, FPUD began getting water from another source: the California State Water Project near Sacramento. The entire southern California region was growing and to meet that demand, Metropolitan began delivering water to San Diego County from the State Water Project as well as the Colorado River. 

In 1990, the registered voters in the DeLuz Heights Municipal Water District, whose service area joins Fallbrook to the northwest, decided to dissolve their 17-year-old district and its entire service area was annexed to FPUD. This added 11,789 acres to Fallbrook's service area. 

Then in 1994, FPUD’s scope of operations grew one more time when the Fallbrook Sanitary District was dissolved and FPUD took over sewer service responsibilities within a 4,200-acre area of downtown Fallbrook. Today, the District provides imported water and sewer service to 35,000 residents living on 28,000 acres in Fallbrook. About 40 percent of the water is used by agriculture. The District also produces about one and one-half million gallons of recycled water daily that is used to irrigate nurseries, playing fields, landscaped freeway medians and common areas.