Tentative Superior Court ruling finds Metropolitan Water District’s rates violate state law

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego County Water Authority announced late today, Feb. 25, that a tentative ruling in its lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water District found the MWD’s rates violate state law.

Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow ruled that rates the MWD adopted and imposed in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 violate several state statutes as well as Proposition 26, which sets the conditions under which taxes and fees can be increased, according to the water authority.

A representative of the Los Angeles-based MWD could not immediately be reached for comment.

The MWD is the main water wholesaler in Southern California. It sells water to the San Diego CWA, which in turn distributes it to local water districts.

The local water authority first sued MWD in June 2010, and then filed another lawsuit in June 2012 because the 2010 case had not been resolved and MWD had adopted rates for 2013 and 2014 based on the same formula.

In both lawsuits, the CWA asserted that the MWD illegally assigned unrelated water supply costs — including its costs of obtaining water from the state of California and its costs of subsidizing local water supply projects — to its water transportation rates. The CWA has been working to diversify its water supply in recent years, some of which has to be sent through the MWD’s equipment.

Water authority lawyers, during a five-day trial in December in San Francisco, alleged the MWD artificially inflated the transportation costs with unrelated expenses.

The CWA said the stakes in the litigation amount to more than $2 billion for San Diego County residents over 45 years.

In response to the ruling, Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, issued the following statement regarding the tentative determination and proposed statement of decision:

“Metropolitan is confident that its structure of charging all agencies the same rates for the same services is both logical and legal. This is one initial step in a very long process.

“Metropolitan has prevailed in previous challenges, including SDCWA’s last challenge to Metropolitan’s rates, in which an adverse lower court decision was reversed on appeal.

“We look forward to the coming steps in the judicial process to demonstrate that a rate structure that fairly and equitably recovers all the cost of delivering safe, high-quality, and reliable water is in the interest of all Southern Californians.”

5 Responses to "Tentative Superior Court ruling finds Metropolitan Water District’s rates violate state law"

  1. Lee   February 26, 2014 at 12:13 am

    One, shocker.

    Two, will we get reimbursed?

    Three, as so many of us have suspected, it is becoming clearer and clearer how an artificial bureaucracy of "middle men" is the reason for our high water prices. And who knows how long this has REALLY been going on.

    Reply
  2. A thought   February 26, 2014 at 9:20 am

    2 billion dollars over 45 years…2 BILLION, but…what is a billion?

    Put into perspective, 1 billion seconds ago the first atomic bomb had not exploded.
    1 billion minutes ago, Jesus Christ was still walking on the earth.
    1 billion hours ago, man was still living in caves.

    What more needs to be said.

    Reply
  3. Me   February 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    @Lee…

    On your #2…..I won’t hold my breath….the CWA will probably get it.

    We have waaaaay too many hands in the pot.

    Reply
  4. Not as bad as FPUD   February 27, 2014 at 8:05 am

    FPUD is just as guilty as MWD. FPUD purposely underestimates the future water sales and set rates based on those faulty estimates. When FPUD ends up with $870,000 STOLEN from water users they act all surprised. Rather than give the money back as required by Proposition 26, they transferred it to other projects. In my book, this is much more dishonest than what MWD has done. See http://www.thevillagenews.com/story/74133/

    Reply
  5. Lee   February 27, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    There are a few more points that came to mind regarding this matter.

    Four, why does it take a trial for the truth to come out? Why? What are our almighty elected officials doing? (Oh, I think we all know the twiddling our thumbs answer.) I am serious, folks. We elect officials who SWEAR, no less, to uphold this and that, to be law-abiding and to look out for THE PEOPLE, and ALL that good stuff. So why did not our governor reveal this? Why did not our lieutenant governor reveal this? Why did not our state attorney general reveal this? Why did not our secretary of business, etc. reveal this?

    Why?

    What do our politicians DO? What? Where is their protection of the people? Aren’t they here to serve THE PEOPLE? Where is ALL this? Where? Anybody outraged like me? Anybody? Anybody care? Yes? No? Is sippin’ on your morning latte more important to you than realizing that our elected officials turned a blind eye and deaf ear . . . to theft?!

    Five, speaking of theft, will the guilty folks who stole this money be brought to justice? Will they? Folks, this is plain and simple theft! If you and I steal ONE single dollar from a bank, you and I go to jail — period. Will these scumbags? Only time will tell, of course.

    Six, and finally, so much for the, shall we say, virtues of our government by representation. Yeah right, baby! For those of you who are still not seeing the light, this story certainly should be yet another wake-up call. Hello! We need DIRECT democracy whereby YOU and *I* are the boss and call the shots directly! No, this is no problem in today’s Age of Communication. Please do not let anybody hoodwink you otherwise with nonsense like elections are expensive or logistically it’s impossible or any other silly excuse. It’s good ol’ fear they’re sellin’.

    WE, THE PEOPLE!

    @ #3 Me

    I agree with you. I’m sure we won’t see a single penny of it. Disgusting.

    Reply

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