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Water district backs San Diego Water Authority

CARLSBAD — During a recent Carlsbad City Council meeting, council members who also serve as board members for the Carlsbad Municipal Water District (CMWD) unanimously agreed to support the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).The SDCWA buys a portion of its water source from MWD, sells it to its 24 member agencies including the CMWD, and felt that the overall transportation costs were too high which ultimately resulted in a lawsuit.

“The County Water Authority is suing Metropolitan because they feel unfairly charged for their rates and it has adversely affected the County Water Authority,” said Glenn Pruim, Utilities Director at the City of Carlsbad.

Although the lawsuit was filed over a year ago, it’s a subject that has been brewing for a few years.

“The County Water Authority has been attending the Metropolitan board meetings and trying to get them to restructure their rates,” said Pruim. But despite their efforts nothing happened.

Pruim said the County Water Authority first approached administrative remedies, but when that became fruitless, they had no other choice but to pursue a lawsuit.

“The County Water Authority is in the process of going through the courts, adding some additional claims, and right now what they want to make sure as they progress through the court system is that they can stand in front of the court and say they have the backing of all their member agencies,” Pruim said. “They are asking these agencies to issue a resolution of support for the County Water Authority’s legal action against Metropolitan.”

Reports show that SDCWA buys roughly 50 percent of its water supply from the MWD and obtains its other supply elsewhere, such as the Colorado River. The water from the Colorado River is being funneled through MWD pipelines. The SDCWA believes the rate structure of this transportation cost is unjust and Pruim calls it a huge amount.

Pruim pointed out that Metropolitan has put these delivery costs into what they call a “transportation charge” whether or not the water purchased is from them. The use of MWD pipelines is far too costly.

The SDCWA and its member agencies are feeling the financial crunch.

“Right now the Water Authority estimates in the current year that it’s overpaying to the tune of about 31 million per year,” he said. “They think over time it will grow to $200 million.”

The lawsuit, Pruim said, is not intended to go back several years and reap monies. Instead, their focus is to rally together and move forward with a new rate structure so that the Water Authority is not overcharged.

They city of Carlsbad believes it is essential to stand behind this lawsuit and that’s why they defended it with its resolution of support.

“I think it’s important to show solidarity,” Pruim said. “All member agencies buy water from the County Water Authority who gets it from MWD so we all feel the adverse impacts and rates that are excessive — they are higher than they should be.”