You are now in Media Coverage San Diego County category.

County Water Authority Proposes Sweeping Legal Settlement with Metropolitan Water District

San Diego County water officials, who have been mired in legal disputes with their counterparts to the north over billions of dollars in rates and methodology, proposed a sweeping compromise Thursday that, if accepted, could end years of acrimony and expensive litigation.

Water Authority Offers To End Decade-Old Rate Dispute With Los Angeles

The San Diego County Water Authority offered Thursday to end a decade-long rate dispute with the Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles. Board Chair Jim Madaffer sent a letter to MWD directors outlining a compromise approach to end litigation involving billions of dollars charged to deliver independent water supplies from the Colorado River to San Diego.

San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer today sent a letter to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board of Directors, settiing the stage for an equitable resolution of long-running rate cases. Photo: FourSquare/Creative Commons Madaffer's letter

Water Authority Board Chair Outlines Compromise Terms to Potentially End MWD Litigation

San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer today sent a letter to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board of Directors that lays out a potential compromise approach by both parties designed to end nearly a decade of litigation over MWD’s rates.

The letter includes specific, practical terms that respect both the Water Authority’s and MWD’s perspectives towards an equitable conclusion in coming weeks.

“Concluding all pending court cases is in the best interest of everyone involved, and it would allow us to begin a new era of collaboration on other important regional and state issues,” said Madaffer, who started his tenure as chair on Oct. 1. “I hope MWD will embrace this gesture of good faith to seek settlement, and that we can do so in an expeditious and fair manner.”

Madaffer’s letter builds on the commitment of his predecessor, prior Water Authority Board Chair Mark Muir, to seek an end to lawsuits that started in 2010 and involve billions of dollars of contested rates and charges.

The Water Authority won several significant items in two cases covering MWD’s rates for 2011-2014, including additional rights to approximately 100,000 acre-feet a year of MWD water, invalidation of an illegal contract clause that MWD used to deny support for local supply development projects, and damages and interest on tens of millions of dollars of unlawful Water Stewardship Rate charges by MWD. The courts allowed MWD to continue charging historic State Water Project costs in water transportation rates charged to the Water Authority.

Key terms outlined in Madaffer’s letter include:

  • Neither party should be expected to give up anything it won in court.
  • MWD would change the way it charges for delivering the Water Authority’s independent supplies from the Colorado River by adopting a fixed price and tying future price increases to an inflation index each January 1.
  • The Water Authority would drop pending claims challenging the legality of MWD’s Water Stewardship Rates that MWD charges on the purchase of MWD water supplies.
  • The Water Authority would accept $5 million in attorneys’ fees and costs, a substantial reduction from the $8.9 million the trial court awarded to the Water Authority.
  • MWD’s Board would approve a pending agreement to provide through its Local Resource Program funding for the Carlsbad Desalination Project, the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Project, the Padre Dam-East County Advanced Water Purification Project and other pending local supply project agreements.
  • The Water Authority would be granted a sub-account in MWD’s Colorado River Lake Mead Storage Project to store 200,000 acre-feet of eligible Water Authority supplies in Lake Mead, which would benefit both MWD and the Colorado Basin states.

The complete letter is posted here.


 More than 20 years ago, the Water Authority and its member agencies began improving the San Diego region’s water supply reliability by lessening reliance on MWD, which at the time supplied about 95 percent of all the water used in San Diego County.

The cornerstone of that diversification strategy is a set of agreements known collectively as the Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement, which was signed in 2003 to secure independent water supplies for the Water Authority from the Colorado River. To deliver these supplies to San Diego County, the Water Authority must use pipelines operated by MWD because MWD owns the only large-scale conveyance facilities in Southern California for transporting water.

The Water Authority filed suit in 2010 seeking to invalidate MWD’s rates, and then filed additional suits in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 because MWD kept adopting rates using the same methodology and flawed cost allocations. A series of court decisions have been issued in the 2010 and 2012 cases. The other cases have been stayed in Superior Court during the appellate process on the initial two lawsuits.

Additional information is available on the Water Authority website.


San Diego Union Tribune: County water authority proposes sweeping legal settlement with Metropolitan Water District

Times of San Diego: Water Authority Offers to End Decade-Old Rate Dispute with Los Angeles

Salton Sea: Largest Lake of California Born From An Engineering Mistake

The Salton Sea is the largest lake in California at around 970 square km. But it’s not the product of the powers of nature, it’s the product of a major engineering mistake over 110 years ago. Its creation wiped out the town of Salton and it grew to become a popular fishing and leisure spot during the 1950s. It also became an important local wildlife refuge.

Can L.A. County stormwater Tax Clear The Two-Thirds Bar For Passage?

It was a week after L.A.’s first major rain of the season, and hundreds of volunteers had gathered to pick up trash along the beach at a monthly cleanup organized by Heal the Bay. Ying, a volunteer herself, was giving them instructions — and helping make the case for a countywide measure on the Nov. 6 ballot that would raise money from property taxes to fund stormwater capture and cleanup.

Why Fall Season Is the Best Time To Switch To Drought-Resistant Landscape

Local water districts are offering rebates to homeowners that replace their grass with sustainable landscape, as many do all year, but a local water district says fall may be the perfect season to jump on the offers. “You’ve got cooler temperatures, shorter days so it gives a chance for the plants that you plant in the fall to take root before the heat of summer kicks in,” Michelle Curtis with the Helix Water District said.

IB Students Monitor Water Pollution North Of Tijuana

Josh Hill, a marine biology teacher at Mar Vista High School, lost count of the number of times he’s gotten sick from swimming in the ocean at Imperial Beach. “It’s just kind of sad that we have this awesome natural resource that we don’t get to use,” he said. He and a group of students are raising awareness about water pollution by taking weekly water samples of the ocean and publishing their results online. Every Thursday, Hill and his students collect water from the south end of Seacoast Drive and the Imperial Beach Pier.