Greg Thomas lives in the Eastern Municipal Water District, but for the past year he has been the general manager of the Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District in northern San Diego County. On July 24 Thomas gave a presentation to the San Diego County Water Authority board on that Escondido-based district which is one of the SDCWA member agencies.
“It’s a pleasure to just kind of highlight the Rincon Water District. It’s a smaller district, but there’s a lot in the hopper,” Thomas said.
The Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District was formed as a public agency on February 19, 1954. The name was derived from the Rincon Del Diablo land grant. The Escondido Water Company had purchased water rights in 1905, but the need to become a legal district in order to obtain imported water led to the new identity.
The elimination of the word “Escondido” from the district’s name avoids confusion with the City of Escondido’s water department. The Rincon Del Diablo Water District has a “donut” configuration which surrounds the City of Escondido water service area, but the water district includes parts of the City of Escondido as well as unincorporated Escondido and portions of San Marcos and Vista. The Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District serves 27,000 acres, or approximately a non-contiguous total of 42 square miles.
The district serves a population of approximately 30,000 residents. Its 8,059 connections as of Thomas’ presentation consist of 6,996 residential, 965 commercial, 24 agricultural, and 74 recycled water connections. The district’s most recent annual sales were 10,075 acre-feet, including 7,227 acre-feet of potable water. All of the district’s potable water is purchased from the SDCWA.
The Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District is also responsible for fire protection and emergency medical services within its unincorporated area. The fire and medical powers were added in 1976 to serve residents outside the Escondido city limits. The district has had an agreement with the City of Escondido to provide those services since 1989. The district uses recycled water for fire suppression.
The district staff consists of eleven operations employees and nine administrative employees. Its 2014-15 budget of $19.7 million includes $4.4 million for capital projects. The district facilities include ten reservoirs, four pump stations, and 128 miles of pipe. The pump stations were installed by district staff, and most of the maintenance is also performed in-house.
The new Palomar-Pomerado Hospital is within the Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District, as is a Sempra Energy plant. The district’s customers also include Stone Brewing. “It does take a lot of water,” Thomas said of the brewery.
Issues facing the Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District include infrastructure, personnel benefits and costs, reliable sources of potable water, and the desire to increase use of the recycled water the district generates from treatment. The final workshop for the district’s new strategic plan took place July 22, and the plan is likely to be brought out for initial board and public discussion during August. The district also plans to undertake an updated rate study.
Thomas has lived in Temecula since 2004. He spent 22 years in the United States Marine Corps and retired in 2006 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Thomas was stationed in Washington, DC, before being transferred to Camp Pendleton to close out his Marine career.
Thomas worked for engineering and construction companies after his retirement from the military. For approximately three years he had a consulting business specializing in wastewater.
The position of Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District general manager, which had previously been held by Mitch Dion, had been vacant for about nine months before Thomas began his current position on August 1, 2013. “I always wanted to be a general manager, and this opportunity presented itself,” Thomas said.