Expense reports, internal emails point to secret water PR campaign

SAN DIEGO – Team 10 has turned up expense reports and internal emails that call into question a public relations campaign designed to keep San Diego County paying skyrocketing water bills.

Documents show the region’s largest water agency, the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District (MWD), spent money to join influential local agencies including the San Diego County Taxpayer’s Association and San Diego County Chamber of Commerce.

MWD officials have denied such a campaign exists.

A state court found the MWD violated California’s Constitution, statutes and common law when setting rates for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The San Diego County Water Authority claims overcharges of San Diego County ratepayers could exceed $2 billion over 45 years. The San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) predicts the county will be overcharged $54 million in 2014.

“It’s disgusting behavior for public officials,” said SDCWA assistant general manager Dennis Cushman. “I know to the core of what I know that there’s a good portion of that bill, $5, $8 a month that doesn’t belong on that bill.”

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