You are now in Agency News News category.

SDCWA Twilight building-primary 845x450

Final Judgment Entered in Favor of Water Authority in 2010-2012 Rate Litigation

A Superior Court judge has awarded the San Diego County Water Authority $44,373,872.29 in a final judgment for two cases covering rates paid by San Diego County ratepayers during calendar years 2011-2014. The award included $28,678,190.90 in damages for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s breach of contract for the four years at issue, plus pre-and post-judgment interest.

The Water Authority has worked for more than a decade to resolve disputes with MWD in cases filed from 2010-2018. In February, the Water Authority’s Board of Directors voted to dismiss certain issues from the litigation after securing more than $350 million in local project subsidy benefits for the San Diego region, beginning late last year. In doing so, the Water Authority also acknowledged the MWD Board action to stop imposing the district’s Water Stewardship Rate as a charge for transporting the Water Authority’s independent water supplies through MWD facilities, thus resolving for now that issue in future rate years. Consistent with the Water Authority Board’s direction, its attorneys are taking the steps necessary to narrow the litigation and have recently dismissed one case in its entirety.

“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 Jim Madaffer, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “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.”

As the lawsuits continue to wind down, the Water Authority is working collaboratively with MWD member agencies across the district’s six-county service area to update MWD’s long-term water resource and financial planning. MWD’s Integrated Resources Plan, or IRP, will be its roadmap for the future, factoring in updated data and plans by many MWD member agencies to develop local water supplies such as the Water Authority and its member agencies have done over the past two decades and will continue to do in the future.

In its judgment, the San Francisco Superior Court:

  • Determined that MWD breached the Exchange Agreement by including its Water Stewardship Rate in the transportation rates it charged to the Water Authority. Damages for the four years at issue are awarded in the amount of $28,678,190.90, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, bringing the grand total for these four years to almost $45 million. Such improper charges on the Exchange Agreement, if they had continued from MWD, would have cost San Diego County residents more than $500 million over the life of the Water Authority’s water delivery contract with MWD.
  • Acknowledged the required increase in the Water Authority’s preferential rights to MWD water by approximately 100,000 acre-feet a year, equivalent to about twice the annual production of the $1 billion Carlsbad Desalination Project. MWD had earlier complied with the appellate court ruling to this effect and corrected its records accordingly.
  • Confirmed that MWD had illegally barred the Water Authority from MWD’s demand management programs by the inclusion of an unlawful contract provision. MWD lifted the ban in response to the Court of Appeal ruling and has since that time approved nearly $500 million for water supply projects in San Diego County. The initial approvals of $350 million beginning late last year increased with the MWD Board’s approval in June of two more projects totaling an additional more than $115 million.
  • Granted declaratory relief that 1) the inclusion of the Water Stewardship Rate in MWD’s published wheeling rate and under the Exchange Agreement is unlawful and invalid; and 2) MWD’s “Rate Structure Integrity” clause barring the Water Authority from receiving demand management program benefits is invalid and unenforceable as an unconstitutional condition.
  • Ordered that a preemptory writ of mandate would issue, commanding MWD to enact only legal wheeling and transportation rates in the future.

The Court will retain continuing jurisdiction over the cases. A hearing will be held later this year to determine the prevailing party’s right to recover attorneys’ fees and costs.

With a judgment issued in the first two cases, the Water Authority is also working to narrow the scope of the remaining 2014, 2016 and 2018 cases (a 2017 case has already been dismissed).

“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 and MWD’s fiscal sustainability.”

Click here for more information about the rate case litigation, including the final judgment in the 2010 and 2012 cases.

Vista Irrigation District Logo

Vista Irrigation District Will Not Increase Water Charges in 2020

Vista, Calif. — At its August 5 meeting, Vista Irrigation District’s Board of Directors voted not to increase its water service charge in 2020 in an effort to support its customers facing financial challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our board is concerned about the financial impacts that our customers are facing,” said Vista Irrigation District Board President Richard Vásquez. “Prudent financial planning and budgeting has provided the district with the opportunity to not raise its rates in support of its customers during this challenging and uncertain time.”

Otay Water District Logo

Otay Selects El Cajon Homeowner as Winner of the WaterSmart Landscape Contest

Spring Valley, Calif. – At its virtual Board of Directors meeting on August 5, the Otay Water District Board recognized El Cajon resident Patricia Wood for taking the title of “Best in District” in the Otay Water District’s 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest. Her landscape demonstrates a well thought-out design, methods for efficient irrigation, and appropriate plant selection and maintenance.

Agriculture-Imperial Valley-Face Masks-coronavirus

Imperial County Agencies Deliver 500,000 Face Masks to Agriculture Workers

The Imperial County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office has taken the lead in distributing more than 500,000 face masks to all sectors of the agriculture industry in the Imperial Valley.

“This was a positive result of the state understanding our need,” said Imperial County Agricultural Commissioner Carlos Ortiz. “They heard us.”

Agriculture is one of the essential sectors critical to health and safety in California during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since May, 566,000 face masks have been distributed to 126 agricultural-based businesses, including growers, farm labor companies, pest control, feed lots, trucking companies, hay presses and the dairy industry. Face masks have also been provided to agencies that work with farm workers, including Campesinos Unidos and Clinicas De Salud Del Pueblo.

State, local agencies collaborate for worker safety

The distribution of face masks to the agricultural community was part of a joint statewide effort of the California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association together with the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Pesticide Regulation. The California Office of Emergency Services provided 824,000 face masks.

Ortiz said there is a rewarding feeling that comes from working with a team to respond to a local need.

“The fact we have received these masks from the state points to how critical agriculture is as an essential service to keep food on the table, especially during these challenging times,” said Ortiz. “Everyone in agriculture deserves praise for the work they are continuing to do.”

A survey was first sent to the Imperial Valley agricultural community, and there was an overwhelming response that personal protective equipment, starting with face masks, were a critical need.

“The reaction to the survey let the state know there was an immediate need,” said Ortiz.

The county will also be receiving special N-95 respirator masks, that will be distributed to agriculture workers that handle applied pesticides which require special respirator equipment, according to Ortiz.

Face masks ‘vital’

J Rollins, Vice President and Operations Manager of Rolling R Enterprises, a local family-owned custom harvesting and hauling company, said his company received face masks for his employees at a time that masks were very difficult to find through normal retail or wholesale avenues.

“Aside from our sanitation protocols, the masks we received from the Ag Commissioner’s Office was vital in keeping our workforce healthy, especially at the peak of our operations,” said Rollins.

Imperial Valley-Agriculture-COVID-19-face masks

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Imperial Valley vegetable farmers took additional precautions during the Spring 2020 harvest. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Timely delivery of face masks

Along with mask distributions, the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office has provided masks to individual farm workers and crews while doing field inspections.

“You are trying to focus on what else you can do to get the face masks to those who need them,” Ortiz said.

Imperial County Farm Bureau Executive Director Brea Mohamed said she was grateful for the mask distribution, adding the masks are helping growers ensure the safety of their employees and crews.

When the pandemic hit Imperial County, growers faced heavy costs to purchase such personal protective equipment, which placed further strain on their operations at a difficult time. It was also a challenge to find enough face masks to serve the local need of agricultural, she said.

Despite the coronavirus, agricultural work had to continue, said Mohamed.

“This hit right at the end of the produce harvest and just as we were starting to harvest corn, then came onions and melons,” she said. “Plus the feedlots and forage crops are year-round.”

Going forward, Mohamed said she is hopeful there might be additional help with other personal protective equipment, like hand sanitizers and sanitizers for farm equipment.

Recreational activities such as fishing at Lower Otay Reservoir are continuing safely under new coronavirus safety protocols. Photo: City of San Diego reservoirs open

San Diego Reservoirs Open with Coronavirus Safety Guidelines

All City of San Diego reservoirs previously closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic are now open to the public during regular business hours for walking, jogging, cycling, fishing and boating. Normal fishing and boating fees will apply.

“Overall everything is working well,” said Bryan Norris, the City’s reservoirs and recreation program manager.  “Several reservoirs are experiencing higher than normal visitation since the reopening.”

Available activities include walking, jogging, cycling, fishing and boating. Normal fishing and boating fees will apply. Photo: City of San Diego

Available activities include walking, jogging, cycling, fishing and boating. Normal fishing and boating fees will apply. Photo: City of San Diego

Reservoirs open, face masks, physical distancing required

The public is asked to observe COVID-19 preventative measures, including mandates requiring face coverings and physical distancing.  Bathrooms are scheduled to be cleaned regularly as part of San Diego County regulations. For more information go to:

Miramar, Murray, and Lower Otay Reservoirs reopened in mid-May. El Capitan Reservoir and Upper Otay Reservoir were next to reopen on June 6, followed by San Vicente Reservoir on June 13. Lake Hodges, Sutherland, and Barrett all opened in early July and remain open.

New safety and cleaning protocols first started with the May reopenings are continuing.

Lake Jennings offers its popular night fishing on August 7

Lake Jennings in Lakeside, operated by the Helix Water District, remains open for recreation, day use, and camping by family member groups only after reopening in June. Fishing and day use visitors must wear masks and adhere to physical distancing. The Bait and Tackle Shop is open with restrictions. See the complete list of current restrictions onsite at the Lake Jennings website.

The lake was stocked with 1,000 pounds of catfish in preparation for its popular Night Fishing event on Friday, August 7. Fishing enthusiasts of all ages may fish from the shoreline from 3 p.m. until midnight.  A valid California State Fishing License is required for anyone 16 years old and older.

The recreation side of the lake is open every Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., unless a night fishing event is taking place.

The campground is currently sold out this weekend, but campers can check for availability due to cancellations online at Only registered campers are permitted in the campground, no visitors or day use access is allowed.

Santee Lakes fishing report

Santee Lakes 2 and 4 were stocked on July 27 with 500 pounds of catfish each. The next scheduled fish stocking will take place Monday, August 10. Photo: Padre Dam MWD / Santee Lakes

Santee Lakes 2 and 4 were stocked on July 27 with 500 pounds of catfish each. The next scheduled fish stocking is August 10. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District / Santee Lakes

The popular Santee Lakes reports the bass continue to bite on fishing lines using soft plastics, topwater frogs, and swimbait. Popular spots include the west side of Lake 5 and the southwest corner of Lake 4. Catfish are also biting on a mix of bait including mackerel, chicken liver, and mealworms. Catfish are biting on the east shore of Lake 4 and the south shore of Lake 2.

Santee Lakes has opened the 2021 reservation schedule for its popular campsites.

Padre Dam Municipal Water District built Santee Lakes to demonstrate the promise of water recycling. The 190-acre Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve is owned and operated by Padre Dam MWD and is entirely self‐sustaining, receiving no funds from water/sewer ratepayers or taxpayer subsidies.

The City of Poway is performing maintenance at Lake Poway, drawing the lake level down temporarily. Photo: City of Poway

Lake Poway Water Level Temporarily Reduced for Maintenance

Lake Poway’s water level is lower today, but it isn’t due to the current heatwave. The lake is being temporarily reduced to complete a planned maintenance project to replace a transducer.

Lake Poway serves as the City of Poway’s main water storage reservoir, with a capacity to hold more than one billion gallons of water. A transducer measures the lake’s water level and remotely sends data to the city.

The city typically takes advantage of lower summer lake levels every year as part of a process to maintain the water quality and for maintenance.  Water drawn down from Lake Poway is sent to the Lester J. Berglund Water Treatment Plant for treatment. Replacement water is added back in from supplies the city purchases from the San Diego County Water Authority.

Drinking water is not being discarded. Instead, the City of Poway is moving drinking water into the delivery system for treatment, and holding back on replenishing the lake until the maintenance project is complete.

The work creates a bonus for San Diego County’s avid fishing fans.

“It’s not unusual for the water level to be down in the lake this time of year,” said Allie Margie, Recreation Supervisor at Lake Poway. “Our night fishing and catfish restocking schedule aren’t affected – and with less water and more fish in the lake, your chances of making a catch might be better than ever.”

Three billion gallons of drinking water safely treated annually

Lake Poway treats three billion gallons of drinking water annually. Photo: City of Poway

Lake Poway treats three billion gallons of drinking water annually. Photo: City of Poway

Poway operates a modern water treatment and distribution system. Lake Poway serves as a storage reservoir for imported water from both the Colorado River and Northern California.

Water flows through the Berglund Water Treatment Plant, where approximately three billion gallons of drinking water are treated every year for the citizens of Poway. Once treated, the drinking water enters a system of pipes, pump stations, reservoirs for delivery to customer’s homes and businesses.

Did you know?

  • The City of Poway maintains about 294 miles of water pipe.
  • There are approximately 2,345 fire hydrants throughout the city.
  • There are over 5,044 valves in the water system.
  • Employees working in the water system are required to be certified by the State of California to work in a water system.


Sweetwater Authority Wins Statewide Award for Hydro Station Education Experience

Chula Vista, Calif. – On Wednesday, July 22, the Sweetwater Authority (Authority) Governing Board was presented with the California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO) Award of Distinction for excellence in public information and communications. The Authority received the award earlier this month for its innovative communication for the Hydro Station Education Experience.

New Seawater Intake Pumps-Carlsbad Desalination Plant-fish-friendly

New Fish-Friendly Seawater Intake Pumps at Carlsbad Desalination Plant

New fish-friendly seawater intake pumps recently commissioned  at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant are among the most environmentally advanced intake pumps in the world.

The three intake pumps, manufactured by Indar, are part of a broader effort to ensure the long-term health of the marine environment near the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, which sits on the shores of Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

New intake pumps and state-of-the-art technology

Installation of the new intake pumps is part of a phased program to replace the existing seawater intake and discharge facilities with state-of-the-art technology to protect marine life that wasn’t available when the plant was operating with source water from the Encina Power Station. The closure of the power station in December 2018 led to temporary intake-discharge operations until the new intake pumps came online. The next steps include adding new intake screens, designed to prevent any sea-life larger than 1 millimeter (thicker than a credit card) from entering the plant.

Essential work during COVID-19 pandemic

The work to complete the construction and commissioning of the new fish-friendly seawater intake pumps was part of the essential work allowed under California guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The contractor, KiewitShea Joint Venture, worked in accordance with guidelines adopted by the State Building and Construction Trades Council and approved by Governor Gavin Newsom for essential construction. The contractor worked uninterrupted to complete the project per the June 30, 2020, deadline set by the Regional Water Quality Control Board without any health or safety violations.

The eventual transition of the desal plant to operate independent of the power plant was anticipated in the 2012 Water Purchase Agreement between Poseidon Water, which manages and operates the facility, and the San Diego County Water Authority, which purchases the water for use across the region. Currently, the plant provides about 10% of the region’s water supply.

New intakes part of advanced sea-life protection

New seawater intake pumps-Carlsbad Desalination Plant-Fish Friendly

The new intake screens are the final part of upgrades, which when complete in 2023, will make the Carlsbad Desalination Plant the first desalination facility in California to comply with the 2015 California Ocean Plan Amendment, which is among the most advanced sea-life protection measures in the world. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The new intake screens are the final part of upgrades, which when complete in 2023, will make the Carlsbad Desalination Plant the first desalination facility in California to comply with the 2015 California Ocean Plan Amendment, which is among the most advanced sea-life protection measures in the world. Poseidon Water also plans to implement the same state-of-the-art intake system at its proposed Huntington Beach Seawater Desalination Plant in Orange County.

“We are excited to reach this milestone at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant that highlights our commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Jim Madaffer, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “This plant will continue to be a vital regional resource for decades to come, and it demonstrates that environmental enhancements can go hand-in-hand with water supply sustainability.”

Carlsbad Desalination Plant improves sustainability

The Water Authority can purchase up to 56,000 acre-feet of water from the Carlsbad plant per year – enough to serve approximately 400,000 people annually. The new pumps, combined with additional future investments, will continue to provide the San Diego region with a critically important drought-proof water supply from the Pacific Ocean.

The plant is a major component of the Water Authority’s multi-decade strategy to increase the county’s water supply reliability through supply diversification. San Diego County’s water portfolio approach has been successful in minimizing the region’s vulnerability to drought and other water supply emergencies.

“Using the most advanced technology for the seawater intake system builds on the Carlsbad Desalination Plant’s long history of protecting and preserving the coastal environment,” said Poseidon CEO Carlos Riva. “The new intake system will make this one of the most environmentally sensitive desalination plants in the world, and further enhance our region’s water reliability and climate resiliency.”

For more information, go to the plant website,, or to the Water Authority’s website,

Helix Water District’s Calavo storage tank was ideally positioned to play home to the new repeater. Photo: Helix WD emergency communication

New Helix Water District Connection Improves Emergency Communication

East San Diego County firefighters and first responders will be better prepared to respond to emergencies due to improved communication capacity through a new partnership with the Helix Water District. The Heartland Communication Facility Authority recently installed a new radio repeater on Helix Water’s Calavo tank, located near Mt. Helix.

“When public agencies work together to improve the lives of our citizens, everyone benefits,” said Helix Board President Mark Gracyk. “We are delighted with the outcome and are very proud to participate in making East County a safer place to live.”

Heartland’s goal is to provide its customers with the highest quality of public safety communications services. Heartland provides public safety communication services to 13 fire agencies throughout East San Diego County. It uses a universal radio system – known as a VHF radio – to communicate with fire agencies and first responders.

New radio repeater improves public safety

Though reliable, the hilly terrain of East County can interfere with VHF radio communications. Diagram: Helix WD emergency communication

Though reliable, the hilly terrain of East County can interfere with VHF radio communications. Diagram: Helix Water District

Though reliable, the hilly terrain of East County can interfere with VHF radio communications. As part of its effort to improve communication in El Cajon and Spring Valley, it needed a suitable location to install a radio repeater between the two communities. The Calavo storage tank was ideally positioned to play home to the new repeater. Heartland approached Helix to work out an agreement.

“Heartland Communications Facility Authority knows the needs of our local emergency communication infrastructure,” said Dan McMillian, Helix Water District board member. “When Heartland approached Helix, our board saw this as an opportunity for our two agencies to work together for the benefit of the communities that we serve.”

“The addition of a radio repeater on the Calavo Drive water tank will allow firefighters from throughout the state who respond to the East County to communicate with each other and the dispatch center using this repeater,” said Carlos Castillo, Director of Heartland Communications. “Communications are an integral part of the firefighting effort in suppressing wildland fires, and firefighter safety relies on an effective communication infrastructure.”

Project completed prior to anticipated 2020 wildfire season

Improvements at the Calavo site included installing a new radio repeater and a four-foot antenna at the top of the tank. Photo: Helix WD

Improvements at the Calavo site included installing a new radio repeater and a four-foot antenna at the top of the tank. Photo: Helix Water District

Construction started in March 2020 and was completed in June 2020. Improvements at the Calavo site included installing a new radio repeater and a four-foot antenna at the top of the tank. As part of the project, San Diego Gas and Electric installed a new electric service and meter at the site so Heartland’s equipment can operate independently from Helix’s pumps and monitoring equipment.

“Heartland Communications would like to thank Helix Water District for allowing us to install our VHF repeater on their water tank,” said Castillo. “This collaboration between Helix and Heartland is a win-win for the fire service and the community. It will provide the critical communications infrastructure needed to enhance public safety.”

The Heartland Communication Facility Authority provides emergency communication services for its member agencies, which include Alpine Fire, Bonita Fire, San Miguel Fire, City of El Cajon, City of La Mesa, City of Lemon Grove, Lakeside Fire, City of Santee, Barona Fire and Viejas Fire.

The Helix Water District treats and delivers water to 277,000 people in La Mesa, El Cajon, Lemon Grove, and parts of Spring Valley, Lakeside, and unincorporated San Diego County.

Water Agencies Warn of Threatening Calls by Scam Artists

Water agency customers in several San Diego County communities have received scam phone calls this week demanding immediate payment of water bills by credit card or their water will be turned off.

Don’t be fooled! Hang up.

Public water agencies in San Diego County do not make phone threats for immediate credit card payment. In fact, water agencies statewide are prohibited from disconnecting service to water customers during the coronavirus pandemic per an executive order issued by Governor Gavin Newsom on April 2. The order remains in effect indefinitely.

“Scammers will often ask you to pay in a way that makes it hard for you to get your money back – by wiring money, putting money on a gift card, prepaid card or cash reload card, or using a money transfer app,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. “Anyone who asks you to pay that way is a scammer.”

Utility scams pop up periodically across the region and take many forms. If in doubt about a contact made by someone claiming to work for a public water agency, call the number on your water bill and ask to talk to a customer service agent.

More information on phone scams: