Colorado River Aqueduct
The Colorado River Aqueduct. Courtesy Metropolitan Water District

A judge has awarded the San Diego County Water Authority $44.4 million in a final judgment of two lawsuits over rates paid to transport water supplies from 2011 to 2014.

The award, announced Friday, included $28.7 million in damages and interest to be paid by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which controls the transport of water from the Colorado River.

The Water Authority had worked for more than a decade to resolve the dispute, which concerned San Diego’s independent supply of water from the river that was carried by Metropolitan Water’s aqueducts and pipelines.

A decision to end the legal battle came in February after Metropolitan Water’s board of directors approved more than $350 million for water supply projects in San Diego County. That amount has since been increased by $115 million.

“Entry of final judgment caps a 10-year effort by the water authority board of directors on behalf of San Diego County ratepayers, proving once again our region is stronger together in charting our water future,” said Board Chair Jim Madaffer. “While the damages and interest award is important, the entry of judgment will also help avoid future overcharges and thereby minimize future disputes based on rulings by the court of appeal.”

The Water Authority said it is now working collaboratively with Metropolitan Water’s member agencies across a six-county service area to update the region’s long-term water resource and financial planning.

With a judgment issued in the first two cases, the Water Authority is also working to narrow the scope of the remaining cases, which cover years through 2018.

“Like most court proceedings, it will take a little time to work through all the details,” said Water Authority Board Secretary Christy Guerin, who led the most recent litigation settlement efforts for the agency. “We recognize that MWD is at an important crossroads, and we look forward to working with the other MWD member agencies on charting a future course to ensure both a reliable Southern California water supply.”

Chris Jennewein

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