“In a court battle with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, the San Diego County Water Authority won a round Tuesday versus its archenemy: the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
“A judge in San Francisco tentatively ruled that Metropolitan violated the California Constitution in setting the rates it charged for transporting water from the Colorado River to San Diego County through its aqueduct and other water transportation facilities.”
“A California court of appeal recently held that a public agency is not required to provide individual protest procedures for each customer class when proposing increases to its water service fees. The court based its decision in Morgan v. Imperial Irrigation District on Proposition 218 (California Constitution article XIII D, section 6) and the Proposition 218 Omnibus Implementation Act (Government Code section 53750 et seq.).
“The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power resumed sending out automatic notices to customers who are short on their bills this week, months after halting the practice amid alarm over erroneous charges.
“The effort is meant to help mop up a revenue shortfall of more than $300 million.”
“Over the past 10 years, Sonoma County Water Agency deliveries declined about 20 percent, from 66,500 acre-feet to 54,200 acre-feet, while wholesale and retail water rates have continued climbing to meet the fixed costs of maintaining and operating the water-supply network.
“So we were pleased to hear Water Agency officials pledging on Monday to tap reserves to avoid charging people more for using even less during the current drought.”
“The Sonoma County Water Agency is proposing to use $6.6 million, more than half its reserve fund, to prevent drought-related conservation measures from causing steep rate hikes for more than 600,000 customers in Sonoma and Marin counties.”
“Davis can raise its water rates to pay for the city’s Surface Water Project with neighboring Woodland, a Yolo Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday, thwarting a local lawsuit that alleged the rates were unconstitutional.”
“Imperial Valley cities will soon get a break on the price that they pay for water.
“The Imperial Irrigation District board of directors unanimously approved a motion Tuesday to reduce municipal water rates from $68 per acre-foot to $20 per acre-foot, the same price that farmers pay for water.”
From the California Water Law Journal, in an article by Bryan Barnhart:
“Proposition 218 is pushing California’s conservation-pricing programs to evolve. Conservation-pricing programs use price signals to discourage the waste of water. Currently, such programs commonly rely on tiered rates.
From the Monterey County Herald, in a commentary by Peter Funt:
“‘My cat knows how to turn the faucet in the upstairs bathroom and I believe she ran the water for nine hours while I was out.’ I’ve been hearing stuff like that almost every day since renting an office in a building that houses the local water company.”
“Starting next year, renters within the Calaveras County Water District no longer will be sent bills for water and sewer service.
“Calaveras County Water District directors earlier this month voted to approve the change, which district staff say will save roughly $20,000 a year on postage and paper for the bills sent to tenants.”
From The Sacramento Bee, in a commentary by Newsha Ajami:
“As some communities deal with the growing impacts of climate change and extreme weather, emerging contaminants and strict water quality requirements, there is a growing urgency to expand investment in water and wastewater management systems in order to continue to provide high-quality and reliable water services to Californians.
“A key question, however, is how to pay for these needed investments?”
“A water war in Southern California could result in rates being driven up for millions of customers, just as the state enters a third year of drought.
“The San Diego County Water Authority is alleging in a lawsuit that its supplier, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, is gouging the county on charges to deliver water through an aqueduct system. MWD officials say San Diego agreed to the rates 10 years ago and is essentially suffering buyer’s remorse.
“The San Diego County Water Authority has long asserted that the giant Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, its primary supplier, overcharges by tens of millions of dollars a year for water. …
“Tuesday, in San Francisco Superior Court, a trial will begin on two authority lawsuits against MWD over its billing practices.”
“A judge will hear arguments on Tuesday to determine whether the Metropolitan Water District overcharges the San Diego County Water Authority by millions of dollars every year and in doing so subsidizes cheaper rates for users across the rest of Southern California.”