San Francisco -- A ruling on wheeling rate methodology by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will not be issued for at least a month. At a hearing in San Francisco Superior Court, Judge Laurence Kay heard oral arguments opposing and supporting Metropolitan's proposed wheeling-rate methodology.
Metropolitan Water District 's (MWD) wheeling rate is the price it charges other agencies for transporting water through its pipeline.
Following the day-long hearing, Judge Kay instructed each side to submit additional documents which will assist the court in arriving at its decision. Those documents are to be submitted to the court by Dec. 15. The judge will then issue a tentative ruling and allow comment from both sides before finalizing his ruling.
Judge Kay will consider whether MWD's proposal to establish a so-called "postage stamp" wheeling rate conforms with state law. Under the "postage stamp" format, the rate would be the same whether an agency seeking to wheel water would use 100 feet or 500 miles of MWD's conveyance facilities. The postage stamp rate would be predetermined, independent of specific wheeling proposals.
The San Diego County Water Authority and other defendants in the case contend that wheeling rates should be set on a case-by-case basis to fit individual wheeling proposals.
Judge Kay will also consider whether MWD can include all its systemwide costs in setting its wheeling rate, or whether it must confine the costs it passes on through the rate to just those costs related to the specific facilities used for the water's transportation, as the Water Authority and other defendants maintain.
The Water Authority's interest in the MWD wheeling-rate suit stems from the Authority's interest in obtaining supplemental water supplies. MWD wants to charge $262 an acre foot to wheel the water, while the Water Authority has maintained MWD's true cost of wheeling the transfer water through the aqueduct is approximately $58 an acre foot.
MWD in January filed a validation action seeking judicial ratification of its proposed wheeling rate. Judge Kay at a hearing in July ordered a trial be held to explore the case's merits and determine the legality of MWD's wheeling rate methodology.
The San Diego County Water Authority is a public agency that imports up to 90 percent of the region's water from Northern California and the Colorado River and distributes it through 24 member agencies to more than 2.6 million county residents.
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