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Case management conference continued in water rate dispute case

A San Francisco judge has issued a continuance of the case management conference in the San Diego County Water Authority’s lawsuit challenging the rates set by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The case management conference, initially scheduled for Thursday, will now be held off until Feb. 22. According to the water authority’s general counsel, Daniel Hentschke, Thursday’s action was limited to general instruction to lawyers and an announcement of the continuance.

The case emerged in June 2010, when the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors unanimously approved filing suit against the MWD over the 2011 and 2012 water rates MWD adopted in April 2010. The water authority claims MWD is violating the state constitution, state law and common practice by improperly overcharging for the transportation of water and using that money to subsidize the cost of MWD water. The alleged overcharging, SDCWA claims, equates to around $30 million for 2011 and $34 million for 2012.

The Metropolitan Water District has denied any overcharging and has stated that with its “affirmative votes in favor of theses rates and charges” the water authority was a part of the process that built the current rate structure. In its general denial, the MWD also said MWD Board meeting minutes from 2005, 2006 and 2007, when new rates were adopted under the current structure, reveal they were adopted without comment or objection from SDCWA.

In response to MWD’s increased rates, the water authority has recently increased its rates for its customers, including the city of San Diego. On Jan. 24, the San Diego City Council voted 6-2 to pass the increase along to residents.

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