MWD Rate Challenge Update: Court Denies Motion to Exempt MWD Rates from Proposition 26; Pre-Trial Decision Sought on Punitive Contract Clause
On Friday, Sept. 20, a San Francisco Superior Court judge rejected an attempt by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to exempt its water rates from Proposition 26, a voter-approved measure designed to protect ratepayers from hidden taxes.
The judge ruled that MWD's rates for 2013 and 2014 may be subject to Proposition 26, passed by voters in November 2010. Proposition 26 places the burden on local governments such as MWD to prove that the costs allocated to each of their member agencies bear a fair or reasonable relationship to each member agency's benefits from the governmental activity. Click here to read the court order on Proposition 26.
Also on Friday, the Water Authority filed a motion for summary judgment to declare illegal and unenforceable the contract language used by MWD to punish the Water Authority for challenging the legality of MWD's water rates. To read the Water Authority's Motion for Summary judgment, click here.
The Rate Structure Integrity contract clause, or "RSI," purports to give MWD unfettered authority to terminate subsidy funding for any member agency that challenges its rates in the state legislature or the courts - while at the same time requiring the member agency to pay the taxes that are used to pay for the subsidies. Since June 2011, when MWD invoked the RSI clause, San Diego County water ratepayers have paid about $35 million to help fund local water supply and conservation projects and programs in other parts of Southern California. MWD's board has approved 13 new local supply projects in other parts of its service area since barring the Water Authority from these programs.
A hearing on the motions for summary judgment is scheduled for December 3. The majority of the claims in the Water Authority's two lawsuits against MWD are scheduled for a coordinated trial starting Dec. 17.
For more information about the Water Authority's lawsuits against unlawful rates and charges levied by MWD, go to www.sdcwa.org/mwdrate-challenge.
Prepare Your Home and
Family for Emergencies
September is National Preparedness Month, and there are many resources available to help you and your family prepare for any type of emergency. Preparation can help save lives and protect your home and property. An important part of being prepared is knowing what to do if there is an interruption of water service.
Before an emergency:
- Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.
- Make sure you have at least three gallons of water per person and don't forget about your pets; they need water too.
- Learn how to operate shut-off valves to water lines and your water heater.
- Keep extra water in all vehicles, and keep unscented chlorine bleach or water purification tablets at your home.
For more information on how to prepare your home and family, visit Ready San Diego.
Emergency Storage Project
Provides Vital Protection
The Water Authority has been making significant investments over the past decade to ensure water remains available for our region even if a major disaster cuts off our imported water supplies. Right now, the Water Authority is nearing completion of the Emergency Storage Project, which is is designed to make up to a six-month supply of locally stored water available to move around the region. The ESP is a system of pipelines, reservoirs and pump stations around the county. The final phase includes the San Vicente Dam Raise, which will be finished by early next year.
In addition, we regularly work with local retail agencies and the County Office of Emergency Services to share information and make sure we are ready to coordinate emergency response efforts when needed.
To learn more about the Water Authority's emergency preparedness, watch the video below.