Historic win for County Water Authority over MWD villains

On Friday, the San Diego County Water Authority won a historic victory — and sweet vindication — when a judge affirmed its contention that it has been systematically overcharged by the giant Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, known as MWD.

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San Diego County Water Authority announces MWD’s rates violated state law

A judge has upheld his ruling in a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water District that found the MWD’s rates violated state law, the San Diego County Water Authority announced Friday.

San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow on Thursday affirmed his Feb. 25 tentative ruling that stated MWD rates imposed since 2011 violated several statutes and Proposition 26, which sets the conditions for which taxes and fees can be increased, according to water authority officials, who filed the suit alleging the MWD illegally assigned unrelated water supply costs to its water transportation rates.

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Restore the Delta blasts MWD’s secret campaign to keep its water monopoly

The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California has engaged in a secret campaign to attack its critics in order to keep its water monopoly and to destroy Delta fish and farms, according to documents obtained by the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) under the California Public Records Act.

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Diverting recycled water could save Burbank thousands of dollars

Each year, Burbank releases more than 2 billion gallons of unused recycled water into the Los Angeles River, but a plan to divert some of that for use elsewhere could save the city thousands of dollars on the cost of importing potable water.

Under the proposed deal, the Burbank Water Reclamation Plant would redirect 110 million gallons of recycled water to North Hollywood each year, earning the utility credits that would be applied to the cost of importing potable water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Those credits would effectively save the city about $180,000 annually.

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If They Build It, Who Will Come?

Plans by Southern California water agencies to reduce their demand for imported water were highlighted this week by the National Geographic Newswatch blog and the Los Angeles Times.

National Geographic  reported on the efforts of Santa Monica, Camarillo, Ventura County Waterworks District No. 1, Long Beach Water Department, and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to reduce their demand for imported Bay-Delta and Colorado River water by more than 40 billion gallons per year, equivalent to the amount of water 1.11 million people would use in one year. The article highlights efforts by these jurisdictions to boost local supplies through recycling, conservation and development of more local supplies.

The Los Angeles Times article discusses how a proposed project of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power might make that a reality. LADWP announced plans to build the largest groundwater treatment plant in the world to reduce its purchases of costly imported water.

“By 2035, we plan to reduce our purchases of imported water by half,” said James McDaniel, LADWP’s senior assistant general manager.

Similarly, many of MWD’s member agencies have plans to reduce their demands for imported water over the coming decades. In January, a  report compiled by the San Diego County Water Authority using the member agencies’ Urban Water Management Plans found that planned local supply projects could reduce demand for imported water by as much as 1.2 million acre-feet by 2035. To view a map of the planned local projects, click here.

Yet, MWD – Southern California’s water wholesaler and  the biggest buyer of water from the State Water Project – has not considered many of these  projects in its decision-making about support for a proposed Bay-Delta facility. Ratepayers are being asked to pay for a project that currently does not take into account the reality that most water agencies in Southern California are planning to decrease their imported water purchases from Metropolitan, and thus, in turn, lessen the demand for water from the Bay-Delta. A coalition of environmental groups, water agencies, and businesses has asked the state to include the following in its analysis:

■ What is the real demand in Southern California for water imported from the Bay-Delta?

■ What size project are agencies willing to pay for, as demonstrated by firm, long-term financial commitments by those who will benefit from it?

MWD acknowledges that its member agencies are not obligated to purchase any of the water available from MWD. If MWD’s member agencies continue to reduce their purchases of imported water from Metropolitan, as they already are doing, who will be left to pay Metropolitan’s share of the Bay-Delta costs?

DWP to build groundwater treatment plants on Superfund site

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power plans to build the world’s largest groundwater treatment center over one of the largest Superfund pollution sites in the United States: the San Fernando Basin.

Two plants costing a combined $600 million to $800 million will restore groundwater pumping of drinking water from scores of San Fernando Valley wells that the DWP began closing in the 1980s, the utility said. The plants also will ensure that other wells remain open despite pollution plumes steadily migrating in their direction.

The plans mark a major shift at DWP, reversing a trend of recent decades in which the utility has offset diminishing use of groundwater with imports from Northern California and the eastern Sierra.

“By 2035, we plan to reduce our purchases of imported water by half,” said James McDaniel, the DWP’s senior assistant general manager.

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Southwest agencies proposing rate hikes

Water and sewer bills could become more expensive this summer as three southwest Riverside County water districts consider rate increases.

Just how expensive, however, depends on where one lives.

This week, the Rancho California Water District and the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District will hold public hearings on proposed rate increases to both water and sewer services. Both hearings are scheduled to be held Thursday, June 13.

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San Diego loses financing fight with MWD

The Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors Tuesday dismissed pleas from powerful interests in the San Diego region to roll back increases in water rates, hold the line on property taxes and issue refunds to customers.

The San Diego County Water Authority argued that Metropolitan should:

• Reduce a planned 5 percent water rate increase in 2014 to 3 percent and send $75 million of its “excessive reserves” back to customers. Of that, $16.38 million would go the San Diego water authority, Metropolitan’s largest buyer.

• Continue past policy of gradually reducing its property tax rate. Metropolitan instead suspended the planned rate reduction, which will cost property owners about a dime per $100,000 in assessed valuation. Keeping the tax rate stable will save Metropolitan about $4.4 million and cost property owners in the San Diego region about $800,000.

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Why Government Robs You Blind: Because It Can — They Make and Enforce the Laws and Frighten You into Submission

Between pass-throughs and rate hikes and surcharges and transfers to other uses, you might have noticed your bills for water and power have been soaring for years.

You ain’t seen nothing yet — utilities are the certain cash cow for government at all levels, a reservoir of money that can be used just about anyway your elected officials want if they are lucky enough to operate their own water and/or power systems like the (a web address that makes clear it’s a business, not a government agency).

To read more, click here.

Another water fight means $17 million

The San Diego County Water Authority is once again locked in a financial battle with its major supplier, this time over $17 million worth of rate increases and property taxes.

For the average ratepayer and property owner, the annual amount at stake is negligible, coming to less than what they would pay for one cup of coffee a month.

But the contest is worth millions of dollars cumulatively to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and its biggest customer, the county water authority.

The dispute is twofold.

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