Judge decides not to send preferential rights case to trial

Short Title
Judge decides not to send preferential rights case to trial

Water rights remain clouded
February 27, 2002

San Francisco Superior Court Judge James J. McBride sustained a demurrer filed by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California against a lawsuit filed by the San Diego County Water Authority regarding the formula Metropolitan uses to determine its member agencies' rights to water. Today's action by the court means the Authority's lawsuit is ended unless the Authority appeals to the Court of Appeal.

The Water Authority filed the lawsuit in Superior Court in January 2001 seeking legal clarification of "preferential rights," the formula by which Metropolitan calculates its member agencies' rights to water, based on property taxes. The Water Authority concluded it had a responsibility to rectify the gross imbalance between the financial contribution made to MWD and the water the Authority is entitled to receive in return.

"I'm disappointed that the court didn't let this case go to trial, but the court's decision is only the first step toward ultimately resolving this issue," said James F.Turner, Water Authority board chair. "The board of directors will consider its appeal options at its regular monthly meeting tomorrow.

"Under preferential rights as calculated by Metropolitan, almost half of the Water Authority's water supply could become subject to claims by other Metropolitan member agencies, making diversifying our supply even more critical. It's the Water Authority's job to responsibly plan for the water needs of this region's 3 million residents and $117 billion economy. The court's decision means there is still a lot of doubt about the future reliability and cost of Metropolitan's supplies."

The San Diego County Water Authority is a public agency serving the San Diego region as a wholesale supplier of water from Northern California and the Colorado River. The Water Authority works through its 23 member agencies to provide a safe, reliable water supply to almost three million county residents.
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