The San Diego County Water Authority on Friday filed its third legal challenge against rates set by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, alleging that MWD’s rates for 2015 and 2016 aren’t based on the cost of providing the service.

If allowed to stand, MWD’s rates for those two years would overcharge San Diego County ratepayers by $92 million, the San Diego authority said.

Courts sided with San Diego authority in April on two similar suits. San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Curtis E. A. Karnow ruled that the MWD violated cost-of-service requirements in California’s Constitution, statutes and common law when setting rates for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

“Even after a major legal defeat, MWD continues clinging to its belief that it can set rates however it wants,” said Maureen Stapleton, general manager of the San Diego authority. “That’s bad for water ratepayers across Southern California. They will have to pay millions more dollars for MWD to defend decisions that the court has already ruled are illegal.”

The San Diego authority argues that the MWD’s rates force San Diego County to subsidize water in other parts of Southern California.

The lawsuits stem from historic agreements the San Diego authority signed a decade ago to secure independent sources of water from the Colorado River and reduce the San Diego region’s once near-total reliance on MWD. To transport these Colorado River water supplies to San Diego County, the San Diego authority must use pipelines controlled by MWD.

— From a San Diego County Water Authority press release

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.

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