The San Diego County Water Authority announced Thursday that it could receive about $235 million after a final judgment was entered in a long-running legal dispute over water transportation fees.
The water authority won a pair of lawsuits against the Metropolitan Water District — the primary water wholesaler in Southern California — over what it contended to be illegal rates charged to move water from the Colorado River to San Diego.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow awarded $188.3 million in damages, $46.6 million in prejudgment interest, and post-judgment annual interest of 7 percent until the total is paid. The case was heard in San Francisco to get away from the jurisdictions involved in the dispute.
The judge also ordered that MWD under-calculated the Water Authority’s right to MWD water by tens of thousands of acre-feet of water per year, according to the SDCWA.
“This final judgment represents a sweeping, multi-billion-dollar victory for the Water Authority and San Diego County ratepayers,” said Mark Weston, chairman of the agency’s Board of Directors.
“While the damages award for four years of illegal charges by MWD is a significant — and growing — figure, the greatest impact of this victory will be the prevention of future overcharges that, over the first 45-year term of our water transfer with the Imperial Irrigation District, would amount to more than $2 billion,” Weston said.
He added that the judge’s ruling on water rights equals an amount greater than what is expected to be generated by the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. The facility, which could begin production next month, is projected to produce around 7 percent of the region’s water supply.
The Los Angeles-based MWD has previously said it would appeal Karnow’s rulings in the case.
— City News Service
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