San Diego water appeal July 14
July 14, 2004
CA Supreme Court denies Water Authority
appeal on preferential rights
San Diego County Water Authority water supply diversification plan will
reduce exposure to shortages
The San Diego County Water Authority will continue to aggressively pursue
a diversified water supply portfolio in light of today’s State Supreme
Court ruling denying its appeal on preferential rights. The courts action
ends the Water Authority’s legal challenge of the Metropolitan Water
District’s antiquated system of water supply allocations that places
San Diego’s water reliability in jeopardy in times of water shortages.
“While disappointed that the court decided not to hear our appeal,
today’s action brings closure and provides clarity to the Water
Authority’s rights to Metropolitan water supplies – that amounts
to only half the water it currently purchases from the MWD, ” said
Bernie Rhinerson, chairman of the Water Authority’s board of directors.
“The court’s decision makes it more important than ever for
the Water Authority to continue its ongoing efforts to improve the region's
water reliability by diversifying our future water supplies and reducing
our overdependence on MWD.”
The Water Authority’s lawsuit sought a final determination of the
legality of MWD’s method of determining the preferential water rights
of its member agencies. The Water Authority currently imports up to 85%
of its water from MWD. By 2020, the Water Authority plans to reduce its
purchases from MWD to between one-quarter and one-third of the county’s
annual water supply demand.
Earlier this year, a court of appeals rejected the Water Authority’s
challenge. Today’s court ruling by the Supreme Court means the court
of appeals’ decision stands.
Key to the Water Authority's water diversification efforts is the San
Diego County Water Authority-Imperial Irrigation District water transfer
agreement, a critical component of the Colorado River Quantification Settlement
Agreement. The Water Authority-IID transfer will provide 200,000 acre-feet
of water annually from IID to the Water Authority for up to 75 years.
The Water Authority will receive an additional 77,700 acre-feet per year
for 110 years when concrete-lining projects on the All-American and Coachella
canals are completed by 2008.
Additional diversification projects by the Water Authority include the
largest commitment to seawater desalination in the nation.
“It is very important that we remain focused on our seawater desalination
program, which will provide up to 15% of San Diego County’s water
needs by 2020,” said Rhinerson.
Other diversification efforts include increasing water supplies through
conservation, water recycling and groundwater development.
On June 24, 2004, the Water Authority board of directors voted unanimously
to add seawater desalination and 21 other major water supply diversification
projects totaling $1.8473 billion to the agency’s Capital Improvement
The San Diego County Water Authority is a public agency serving the San
Diego region as a wholesale supplier of water from the Colorado River
and Northern California. The Water Authority works through its 23
member agencies to provide a safe, reliable water supply to support the
region’s $130 billion economy and the quality of life of 3 million
# # #