U.S. Water News Online
SAN DIEGO -- A three-year battle over how much water San
Diego County is entitled to in a drought has ended with the
California Supreme Court refusing to hear an appeal of a lawsuit
against the state's largest water wholesaler.
San Diego County's water authority sued the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California in 2001 over a 75-year-old formula
that could be used to divvy up supplies in an emergency. A Superior
Court judge tossed out the lawsuit in 2002, and an appellate court
agreed this year. The state's high court rejected San Diego's appeal.
San Diego County's water authority argued that Metropolitan was
not correctly interpreting the formula. The county said that in a
drought, it would be able to claim only 18 percent of Metropolitan's
water, when it currently uses about a quarter of the supply. San
Diego imports 85 percent of its water from Metropolitan and is the
wholesaler's largest customer.
Metropolitan's No. 2 customer, the City of Los Angeles, bought
about 15 percent of the water sold by Metropolitan last year. In an
emergency, the city has rights to 21 percent.
San Diego's water planners claimed the rule could place the county
in jeopardy. The water authority spent $1.4 million in its
unsuccessful attempt to change the rule.
Metropolitan spokesman Adan Ortega noted that none of its
customers has ever invoked the preferential water rights claim, and
none supported San Diego County's challenge.
Bernie Rhinerson, chairman of the San Diego County Water
Authority, said the court's decision stressed the importance of his
agency's ongoing efforts to diversify its supply and reduce its
"overdependence" on Metropolitan.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.