The Coast News Group

The village’s real water dilemma was where to get water in the first place

DEL MAR — There’s no disputing the city as well as the entire Southland is facing a critical water shortage.
However, Del Mar had a real problem in its infancy. During the clamor to incorporate, proponents never bothered to thoroughly investigate its water source. Sam Fraser had earlier acquired the water company from South Coast Land Co. when it was divesting itself of its village properties. Fraser had a handshake agreement with San Diego to provide Del Mar’s water needs. John Gray, one of incorporation’s opponents, made this problem clear, however, it was ignored. It was not until Fraser decided to sell the water company to Del Mar that this became a major concern.
San Diego had its eye on the fairgrounds and racetrack operation and offered a firm water supply in exchange for annexation. It had the ability to cut off Del Mar’s water supply and at one point did causing the city to cease issuing meter permits.
Del Mar’s solution was to buy out Fraser and to join the County Water Authority, or CWA, and Metropolitan Water District, or MWD which meant paying all back assessments of both entities.
In 1962, City Attorney Lu Leeger, City Engineer Mike Sholders and then-Mayor Bill Arballo began working with San Diego government heavyweights, the MWD and CWA, to craft an agreement to give Del Mar a bona fide water supply. This was completed and signed in 1965 by Mayor Earl Maas. It included a successful bond measure approved by village residents.